Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Slice, slice, baby...

Wow. That's possibly the worst title I've come up with so far. And now you have Vanilla Ice stuck in your head. Sorry about that.

I finally got around to cracking open the mandoline I got for Christmas to make a Sunday dinner dish. I actually bought this for myself a couple of weeks before Christmas at the William Ashley Warehouse sale, an event I have never attended before but was introduced to in 2010 thanks to my SIL. Wow. Let's just say the mandoline was one of many purchases I made that day. Kitchen stuff. On sale! See you in 2011 Will!

My mandoline is a Zyliss. I had never used a mandoline before this weekend but I had heard many horror stories of people cutting off fingertips when using these devices, so the first time I used it I sliced some beets as practice. I figured if I cut myself I wouldn't freak out because the blood would just mingle with the beet juice and I'd be none the wiser. Except for the missing digit. Thankfully, the beet experiment went just fine, meaning I didn't cut myself. So I moved on to potatoes.

I love scalloped potatoes. One of my favourite meals in the world is ham, baked beans and scalloped potatoes. I make it once a year, usually in the Spring and my husband makes fun of me because I get so excited about it. True story. As already noted I've never used a mandoline before, having relied on the tried and true method of slicing my potato slices for scalloped potatoes by hand, albeit in thick slices. The slices aren't uniform but they eat good. This week I wanted to make a new-to-me scalloped potato recipe that recommends slicing your potatoes with a mandoline. The recipe comes from a cookbook that D. bought me when he was in Florida on business recently - Chef Mickey: Treasures from the Vault and Delicious New Favourites. It's a version of scalloped potatoes (billed a 'potato stack') that bakes your perfect (thin) potato slices in cream along with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Apparently this dish is served at Disneyland. Makes no difference. It had me at cream. The mandoline had me at the first perfect, uniform, (blood-free) slice.

I do recommend these potatoes. They are cheesy, but not in a stringy, "...wow this french onion soup is cheesy..." kind of way. They have a delicate cheese flavour despite Gruyere being a stronger tasting cheese. And the thin potato slices do pack a punch when stacked up in a casserole dish. You can find the recipe here.

Yukon Potato Stack - With Gruyere and Parmesan Cheeses

5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
8 ounces Parmesan cheese
8 ounces Gruyere cheese
3 cups heavy cream
1 ounce fresh garlic
2 ounces shallots
1/4 ounce olive oil
1 Tbs. kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Clean and peel both garlic and shallots. Chop small and set aside.

Shred both cheeses, mix together and hold until ready for use. Reserve 3 oz to top the potato stack.

Peel and slice the Yukon potatoes to about 1/16 inch thick. Use a mandolin or food slicer to slice the potatoes since they need to be evenly sliced. Do not rinse or hold potatoes in water because the starch will be washed away. This is the last step before you start the cooking.

Heat a heavy bottom stock pot on the stove, over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan and coat the bottom. Add chopped shallots and cook for 5 min stirring continuously. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the cream and all of the potatoes to the pot. Add the salt and pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes and begin to reduce the cream until it begins to thicken, about 10 to 15 min.

Add the cheese to the pot and continue cooking over medium heat until cheese melts. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.

Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the 13x9 in baking pan. Spray with a non-stick pan spray. Add the potato mix to the pan; be sure that the potatoes lat flat and there are no gaps in the mix. Spread the remaining cheese over the top in an even layer. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap first and then foil.

Cook in a 300 F oven for 2 hours. Check the potatoes by inserting a tooth pick into the mix. If it goes in with out any give, it is done. If you still have give put it back in the oven covered and check it every 10 to 15 min.

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