Potato and Onion Gratin
The potatoes, onions and garlic in this crusty gratin require a good deal of baking time for absolute tenderness. Make sure the baking dish you choose is large enough for the top of the potatoes to be well below the rim; otherwise, the milk and cream may bubble over.
The potatoes should be sliced to a uniform thickness so they cook evenly. A mandoline is a good tool for slicing the potatoes. Any leftovers can be reheated in a 300°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and thinly cut
crosswise into slices of uniform thickness
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 white sweet onion, peeled, halved lengthwise
and each half thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter a 1 1/2 to 2-quart rectangular or oval baking dish.
Sprinkle the garlic over the bottom of the prepared dish. Layer half of the potato slices, in overlapping rows, over the garlic. Season lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Spread the onion slices evenly over the potatoes, then layer the remaining potato slices over the top, arranging them attractively. Carefully pour the milk over the potatoes, moistening all of the potato slices as you do. Then pour 1/2 cup of the cream over the potato slices, being careful to moisten all of the slices. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Bake until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, golden brown on top and have absorbed most of the milk and cream, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. During the first 40 minutes of baking, baste the potatoes every 10 minutes by tipping the dish a little and scooping up the liquid with a large spoon. Be sure to baste all of the potato slices so that an even golden coating forms. During the last 20 to 40 minutes of baking, baste the potatoes every 10 minutes with the remaining 1/2 cup cream, again being sure to coat all of the slices. You may not need all of the cream.
Remove from the oven and serve directly from the dish. Serves 4.
Adapted from Chuck Williams Collection, Simple French Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1996).