Potatoes are one of my favourite vegetables. At first blush, this may sound really boring but I believe the opposite. You can dress these fine tubers up in a hundred different ways….in a soup, roasted, steamed, mashed, baked…the list goes on and on.
Speaking of potatoes, I had decided that I would forgo the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving this year and turn to something a little less traditional…potato gratin. Normally, I stuff as much creamy goodness into a gratin as I can but, as one of my guests is lactose intolerant, that just wasn’t going to work.
After a bit of research, I came across this recipe in an old issue of Fine Cooking (which you can find here). I dressed it up a bit with some caramelized onions and voila, a nice dish that wouldn’t make my guest ill for the rest of the night.
Potato, Thyme and Olive Oil Gratin with Caramelized Onions (For Aunt Jen)
- 6 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3 lb yellow potatoes (I would recommend Yukon Gold)
- 1 large sweet onion
- coarse salt & ground pepper
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (divided)
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Find a 9 X 9 casserole dish and oil the bottom and sides lightly with olive oil (about 1 Tbsp).
2) Slice the onion into very thin rings.
3) Add the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil to a large pan on medium high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the onions and give them a large pinch of coarse salt and few grinds of black pepper. Turn the heat down and give the onions a stir so they are all coated with the fat in the pan.
4) Give your potatoes a good wash and then peel. Slice into very thin slices (use your mandolin if you have one).
5) Toss the potatoes in a bowl with 1 tsp of fresh thyme and 1/2 tsp of coarse salt and another few grinds of fresh pepper. Use your hands to mix them around, being sure to separate the slices. Place half of the potato slices in your oiled plans.
6) Be sure to give your onions a stir every once and a while. They should be turning a deep brown colour now.
7) Bring the chicken stock to a boil in small sauce pan. Whisk in the remaining 4 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp fresh thyme. Remove from heat.
8) By now, your onions should be nicely caramelized (if not, take the time to make sure they are…the potatoes can stand while you wait). Top the potatoes in the pan with the onions and then add the rest of the potatoes to the top.
9) Pour the mixture over the potatoes and use the back of a wooden spoon to press the potato slices down. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
10) Remove from the oven and take the foil off. Again, use the back of a wooden spoon to press the potatoes down so that the sauce comes bubbling up. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
11) Repeat the pressing down process two more times and return to the oven for a total baking time of 1 hour and 15 minutes. The top will be beautifully browned, but the potato slices should be pierced easily with a fork.
12) Let this dish rest for about 20 – 30 minutes before serving (which is actually really helpful when trying to coordinate the many dishes that make up the usual Thanksgiving feast).