Deeply flavorful yet not too rich, these gratins make a delicious appetizer. But you can also serve them, with a couple of side vegetables, as a main course for a dinner party or a holiday meal.
Note: Although they’re best eaten the day they are made, the gratins can be baked for 40 minutes until just golden, then cooled and refrigerated up to 1 day. To serve, bring to room temperature and bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes until bubbling at the sides.
*Note: If you prefer to make a large gratin rather than individual ones, use a medium-sized ceramic or glass baking dish. Layer the ingredients exactly as described above and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
For the mushrooms
- 12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, stemmed
- 8 sprigs thyme, stemmed
- 2 sprigs winter savory or rosemary, stemmed
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, cut into 1/8-inch slices
- 2 large shallots, quartered and sliced finely
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the gratins
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pound medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline or the blade attachment of a food processor
- 4 ounces cave-aged Gruyère, grated coarsely
Calories Per Serving321
Folate equivalent (total)37µg9%
Porter Creek, Fiona Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir paired with shiitake mushroom gratins
As we drove towards Porter Creek Vineyards, the first thing I noticed was a small canary-yellow sign above the winery’s banner that read: “Organic farm, do not spray.” I smiled.
My husband Marc and I were visiting Sonoma for a much-needed rest. I didn’t want our trip to turn into an endless stream of winery visits and wine tastings. But under no circumstance did I want to miss Porter Creek.
We’d first tasted Porter Creek’s wines three years earlier, at Peter Lowell’s restaurant, a mecca for local food in nearby Sebastopol. It was the Carignane Old Vine that we’d swirled in our glasses. The wine was so memorable that I’ve been a fan of Porter Creek ever since.
Now here we were, in Porter Creek’s tasting room and I could hardly wait to try the new vintages.
Paul Berman, our jovial wine steward was eager to tell us about the winery. He informed us that all of Porter Creek’s hillside vineyards are farmed using organic and biodynamic practices. The yields are kept low and the minerals in the soil carefully maintained. The wines are fermented naturally and old French oak barrels are used to age the wines. Winemaker Alex Davis has even been known to prune all the vines of his 20-acre estate himself. “We’re so hands-on,” Paul exclaimed, “that we still glue all our labels by hand.”
Undeniably, you can taste the love and attention these grapes get, from budding to bottle, in every sip of Porter Creek’s beautiful handcrafted wines. The wines are pure, honest, unique… and quite delicious.
Porter Creek, Fiona Hill Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir
Producer: Porter Creek Vineyards
Region: Russian River Valley
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Serving: Decant for 1 to 2 hours
We tasted three Pinot Noirs that day, each of them outstanding. But the Fiona Hill Vineyard is the one I chose to bring home. After my first sip, I turned to my husband and said: “Do you remember the shiitake gratins I made last week? This is the wine for them.” Marc agreed.
I’d tried to pair the gratins with several different wines, but none of them had worked. It was tricky. The mushrooms in the gratins are earthy yet they have a delicate flavor. Unfortunately, most wines had overpowered the mushrooms. But this Pinot Noir might just be the one…
A week later, I was thrilled to find out that the pairing was as I’d hoped. Smooth with silky tannins, the wine feels round and luscious in the mouth and yet it’s not too heavy. It bursts with dark cherry and wild blackberry flavors and notes of licorice, herbs and a hint of cedar. You also get a great whiff of minerality as soon as your nose reaches the glass, as well as a pleasing earthiness reminiscent of forest floor. This Pinot Noir is expressive and intensely flavorful, yet refined.
The shiitake mushroom gratins and the Fiona Hill Pinot Noir were wonderfully matched in their weight – neither rich nor heavy. The earthiness in the wine paired well with the mushrooms while every bite of the gratin made the wine come alive. It was one of those food and wine synergies that are miraculous and so fun!
Individual Shiitake Mushroom and Yukon Gold Potato Gratins
For the mushrooms
12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley – stems removed
8 thyme sprigs – leaves removes from stems
2 sprigs winter savory or rosemary – leaves removes from stems
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems trimmed and cut in 1/8” slices
2 large shallots – skinned, quartered and finely sliced
2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
For the gratins
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 lb medium Yukon gold potatoes – cut in 1/16” slices (use mandoline or blade attachment of food processor)
4 oz coarsely grated cave–aged gruyere (about 1 cup)
8–1/2 cup capacity ramequins – lightly buttered
Step 1: Place the herbs on a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet to high heat. Add the butter and oil. As
soon as the butter is melted, add the mushrooms. Toss well and sauté
for 4 to 6 minutes until golden, stirring only occasionally. Add the
shallots and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until shallots have
softened. Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for
30 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Whisk the cream, milk, salt and pepper in a
small bowl and set aside. Place a third of the potato slices at the
bottom of each ramequins, just to cover the surface. Top with half the
mushrooms. Then top with a third of the potato slices. Top again with
half the mushrooms and finish with the balance of the potato slices.
Drizzle with the milk mixture. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake
for 45 to 50 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let
cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the gratins in their molds.
Cook’s note: The gratins can be
baked, cooled and refrigerated up to 1 day, although they are best
eaten the day they are made. To serve, bring to room temperature and
bake at 375°F for 6 to 8 minutes until hot.
The Yukon Gold potato was created in the 1960s by Gary Johnston, scientist and agricultural icon in Canada. He bred the first Yukon Gold variety at Ontario Agricultural College in 1966 from a potato from North Dakota, called norgleam with a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety. Released to the market in 1980, the Yukon Gold was the first potato in Canada to be labeled with its name rather than just a color description. Today the Yukon Gold grows throughout Canada, the Midwest and Western regions of the United States and is widely found at grocers and farmers markets.
Making vegetable stock
I’ll be the first to admit that, ever since the late 1990s, when commercial stocks made the quantum leap from those wicked, dessicated cubes to liquid packed in cartons, I have kept my pantry shelves filled with them. These newfangled “stock-boxes” might not have been as flavorful or rich as my homemade stocks, but they certainly were good enough to use in even my most delicate recipes, not to mention incredibly convenient.
What freedom! The monthly task of making four quarts of stock, with all the prepping, simmering and straining, was fortunately no longer a necessity — the more so since the appearance of those gourmet stocks on the market shelves happened to coincide with a move to New York City and the inevitable shrinking of my living quarters. (There was no room in my tiny freezer for my monthly stock production: if I wanted fresh stock, I had to make it every single time I cooked.)
So I succumbed and even after I’d moved into a roomier kitchen, I still reached for that convenient carton every time I needed to cook with a stock.
Then one day, out of the blue, I got an incredible craving to make those four quarts of stock again. It was a deep yearning to smell the rich broth simmering on the stove and filling the house with its comforting aroma.
So I got my giant stockpot out of the pantry.
What a revelation! How could I have been so easily fooled by those fancy cartons? The flavor of my homemade stock was so deep, so rich, so nuanced… It simply could not compare to the boxed kind.
Needless to say I’m back to making my own stocks again, and feel a twinge of guilt at having abandoned my practice over those last few years. I can’t say that I’ll never buy stock in cartons again (after all, it’s hard to give up the convenience). But at least, I can confidently say that once a month the house will be filled with the earthy smells of simmering stock.
What's the difference between scallop potato and potato gratin?
- Both scallop and gratin are dishes made with thinly sliced potatoes and baked in cream or milk sauce and topped with breadcrumbs and broiled until brown.
- Au gratin is a French culinary technique, which means an ingredient covered in breadcrumbs or cheese and broiled until the crust is browned. Au gratin always includes cheese, and the gratin technique can be used with other vegetables.
- Scallop is the same French technique but doesn't involve grated cheese on the top. So the main difference between the scalloped potato and potato gratin is the cheese!
What You’ll Need To Make Potatoes au Gratin
Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, a few words about the ingredients:
- The best potatoes to use for au gratin potatoes are russets they have the most starch and make the creamiest sauce.
- You may be tempted to cut calories by using half & half or milk in place of the cream. Please don’t! This is one of those recipes that really requires heavy cream in order to thicken up.
- It’s important to use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano rather than domestic parmesan. You can tell if it’s the real deal by looking at the rind, which is embossed with the name over and over. (If the cheese is already grated, it should be labeled “Parmigiano Reggiano,” not “Parmesan.”) If you can’t find it, Pecorino Romano makes a great substitute.
- You can use red potatoes or new potatoes, but I really love the buttery texture of Yukon gold. Russet potatoes would also work, but they sometimes fall apart more easily.
- This gratin recipe calls for cheddar cheese, but Gruyere would also be a good substitute.
- To ensure the potatoes are cooked through and tender, slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick. I use this mandoline (afil. links) which really makes this a lot easier. Any thicker and you’ll have to adjust the baking time.
NY Strip with Gold & Sweet Potato Hash Recipe
It's the first snow of the season, so that means it's time to COOK! Looking for comfort food, and I am thinking steak and potatoes. No, it's not a long-simmering stew or mac and cheese, but I'm pretty comforted by the menu I have planned for tonight. I have a vision. Time to make it real.
Grass-fed beef from Fry Farm in Peterborough, NH. Locally produced proteins are readily available where you are too!
I start with (2) grass-fed NY strip steaks from Fry Farm in Peterborough, NH. I came home one day and Bob had 1/8 of a cow in our freezer. Sectioned out, of course, in lovely vacuum sealed packaging and clearly labeled. Sweet. The steaks defrost quickly. I score them in a diamond pattern on the fat side, much like you would a ham. This keeps the steak from curling up when you cook it, and helps the marinade sink in a bit.
If you look real, real close, you can see the scores on the fat, in a criss-cross fashion. Or not.
To marinade, rub, or lightly salt, that is the question. I choose marinade. My quick go-to steak marinade is 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup good red wine, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 minced garlic cloves (I use a garlic press), 1/2 tsp. each of dried thyme, oregano and rosemary - or 1.5 tsp. of any individual herb or herb combo - plus 2 generous pinches of pepper. The soy sauce brings the salt, so I leave the salt out. I whisk the ingredients together in a measuring cup and pour over the steaks. PS, a good squirt of dijon mustard would work well here too!
The steak, deep in marinade. Let sit for at least 20 minutes on the counter, or a few hours in the fridge. Flip once.
I pour it over the steaks, refrigerate, and then head to the cabana for a fire and the Seattle Sounders game. Apparently, they are in the finals. I will probably come up and turn the steaks in an hour, since soccer is not my fave. Sorry soccer fans.
After one hour of soccer, Seattle vs. Toronto for the championship, I am ready for the next step. Meaning, I am bored. The score is 0 - 0, and the Sounders have no shots on goal yet. So I head to the kitchen and start prepping the yukon gold and sweet potato hash. I could leave the skins on, but they are not pretty, so I peel one large sweet potato and three large yukon gold potatoes, cut them into a 1/2 inch dice (no, I did not break out a ruler), and then toss them with olive oil, two pinches of salt, two pinches of pepper and 1 1/2 TBSP. of dried rosemary. I would have gone out to the garden and picked some fresh rosemary, but it is snowing and my feet are cold. I do a finer dice on a large onion and keep that separate, as they will cook quicker. Once I toss the potatoes and put them in a covered container, I place them in the fridge and head down for some more of this scintillating soccer game. These games are long.
All of the ingredients for the Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Hash. That is olive oil in the background.
Oh boy, the Sounders just lost. Bob is not happy. Running to the kitchen post haste, time to prep the next course. Gonna chop some mushrooms and saute them up in olive oil, garlic, a touch of soy sauce for carmelization, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. I can do these in advance and heat them up when it is time. Christmas music, anyone? Why, yes, let's. I also got Bob to agree to fire up the grill for the steaks. I will use the marinade to make a lovely sauce.
White button, shiitake and portobello mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, fresh thyme and salt and pepper.
I chop some brocconlini and put it in a bit of salted water, no heat yet. All the dishes are ready to go, time to add some fire to this party! Bob lays the steaks on the grill and I heat some olive oil in a cast iron skillet and when it is hot, add the prepped potatoes with a bit of Old Bay Seasoning. I start a good browning on one side, cover to let them get tender (5 - 10 minutes), then uncover and stir often to promote even browning on all sides. I taste and check the seasonings. Always.
Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Hash. A perfect fall/winter side dish!
The mushrooms are already done, so once Bob flips the steaks, I remove the mushrooms from the pan and put them aside to make a sauce from the reserved marinade. The marinade goes in the heated skillet and starts to reduce. I add a splash more red wine and some chicken stock. It simmers, I taste it, and I got nothing. It is not delicious. Pan sauces are tough without cooking the protein in the same pan. So I cheat with some "Kitchen Accomplice " beef broth concentrate, basically a reduced stock/demi glace with super concentrated flavors. The ingredients aren't that bad, and I use it sparingly. A good 1/4 cup squirt sets me up and things look and taste good. I decide to add the mushrooms, so we now have a very tasty and concentrated beefy mushroom sauce.
When the steaks come off the gril, they need to rest. That's when I fire the broccolini. Once the water comes to the boil, I give it 4 - 5 minutes, drain, shock with cold water, then add a pat of butter and the juice of 1/2 lemon. I think we are good here. Time to plate.
First I put the steak down. I add a large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to the potato hash, stir, and plate. Then the broccolini. I drizzle the sauce over the top of the steak, and then, because I can, I crumble some Stilton blue cheese over the top of the sauced steaks. About 2 tablespoons per steak, or to taste.
Stilton Blue is a creamy and mild English blue cheese, delicious in sauces, on a steak, in a salad or on a cheese plate. Have it for dessert with a glass of port or sherry.
It is delicious. The combo of the steak, the sauce and the blue cheese is amazing, and the blue cheese does not overpower, it just adds a creaminess. The hash is wonderful, and the lemony broccolini adds a bit of acid to cut the richness of the sauce. The broccolini looks pretty and it is good for you. So eat your veggies, dammit!
Grilled NY Strip Steak with Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato hash, mushroom demi glace, topped with Stilton Blue Cheese and accompanied by Lemon Butter Broccolini. You can do this.
This is a great meal and was not that hard, as I did the prep in stages. Started at 4:00pm by marinating the steak, prepped the potato hash at 5:00pm, did the mushrooms and the veggie prep at 6:00pm, started cooking at 6:45pm, ate at 7:30. Advance preparation is key. I learned this in Girl Scouts, before they kicked me out. True story. I kinda deserved it. Bad language will get you in trouble every time.
If you have a special occasion or want to prepare a romantic meal, this is the one. More of a fall/winter dish, totally not a summer/spring thing. Leave off the blue cheese, change the herbs, make it your own, but stay true to the technique. You may just get applause with this one. And if you don't, I applaud you. You are amazing.
BTW, sooo many leftovers. Soon, I will chop the steak, add it to the hash, maybe add some chopped broccolini and a bit of the mushroom sauce, stir it around gently and put a fried egg on top. Breakfast. Or maybe dinner. Round 2 out of every meal is a good thing.
- ¾ cup whipping cream
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere cheese
- aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Stir together cream, milk, butter, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Arrange 1/2 of the sweet potatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, pour 1/2 of the cream mixture on top, and sprinkle with 1/2 of the Gruyere cheese. Repeat layers once more cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake, uncovered, until potatoes are tender and cream and cheese mixture is bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.