The classic version entails sauteing thickly sliced, par-boiled potatoes in butter, onions and parsley and then putting them in the oven to finish cooking, which is certainly delicious in it's own right, but the restaurant's interpretation is a little more rich and creamy. So, I went for rich and creamy. (I know... you're shocked, right?) It's made with chicken stock, cream, sauteed onions and garlic and lots of buttery Gruyere cheese. Yup. That's a far cry from being lo-cal, but in my book, it's a freebie because it's a dish that I only make once or twice a year for special occasions. Which is good, because you kinda can't stop eating them. My version saves a little bit on time too, because I don't par-boil the potatoes.
- 4 Large Russet Potatoes, thinly sliced
- 2 Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic, coarsley chopped
- 3-4 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
- 6-8 Tbls Butter, cut into small cubes or slices
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
In the largest, highest sided skillet you have, saute the onions and garlic in two to three tablespoons of butter and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, until they're softened and lightly golden brown in color. Remove them from the pan to a plate or bowl and set them aside.
(You can use a sturdy metal baking pan if you don't have a skillet that's at least 12 inches in diameter ~ and remember... never use glass or porcelain on the stove top. It will crack and/or shatter from the direct heat)
I used an all stainless pan, but a non-stick should work just as well.
In the same skillet, over low heat, melt another two tablespoons of butter and start adding the first layer of potato slices. It's fine if they overlap a bit in spots, but try to use the thinnest slices you can, if that becomes necessary.
Next, layer about a fourth of the onion and garlic mixture over the potatoes, give them another pinch of salt and pepper and follow with a quarter of the Gruyere. Dot each layer with a few small pieces of butter. Continue building layers, until you reach about two or two and a half inches from the top of the skillet, ending with the last cup of the cheese.
Pour the stock and cream over the potatoes and dot the top with the remaining butter and a little more salt and pepper. If there isn't enough liquid to come half way up the sides, just add a little more stock or cream. Turn the heat up to medium and bring it all up to a simmer.
Place the pan (uncovered) on the center rack of your preheated oven and bake for roughly 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Check at about 45 minutes, if your oven tends to run a little on the hot side. You want a fork or the tip of a paring knife to go into the center with little to no resistance. Remove the pan to a trivet or hot pad and allow it to cool slightly and settle a bit before serving.
Remember... that skillet handle is going to be blazing H-O-T when it comes out of the oven. I usually lay a thick folded kitchen towel or a pot holder over the handle while it's resting, so that I don't absent mindedly reach for it with my bare hand. I learned that little (and very painful) lesson the hard way, a long time ago. :~(
Serve these as a side with grilled steak or chicken and just about any kind of roasted meat or poultry. Any leftovers can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Just make sure to place a layer of cling wrap directly on the surface of the potatoes, before putting the lid on. This will help prevent any ice crystals from forming and causing that nasty freezer burn.
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