Gratins are notoriously easy dishes to create for the amount of applause and appreciation you receive. Plus, gratins store well in the frig and reheat tastily as the ingredient have time to mellow together. Now is the time to make your gratins for these are hearty dishes for the coldest of days—especially pruning days!
My Vineyard Potatoes Au Gratin pretty much makes due with what I have in the refrig at that time, as 2011 is my year of frugality! For this gratin, I shredded 3 carrots and sliced up the inner core of a bunch of celery and a whole yellow onion. I sauteed the veggies in olive oil as I sliced the potatoes and par-boiled them in salty water. The cheese sauce was half a small container of Greek yogurt mixed in with some 2% milk and a couple of spoonfuls of whipped cream cheese left over from New Year’s Day. I then found a couple slices of pepper jack cheese in the farmhaus fridge from Ger’s dad, thought why not? and melted them into the sauce. I added 3 cloves of garlic and 3 generous squirbles of whole grain dijon mustard into the mix. It was then just a matter of chopping some Italian parsley, leftover ham and then assemblying the dish as if it were a lasagna.
The topping (which makes a gratin a “gratin”) was shredded sharp cheddar sprinkled liberally with smoked paprika, salt n’ pepper. For me, sharp cheddar, smoked paprika and salt n’ pepper is akin to a reverse holy trinity in cooking. You can build all sorts of things under it and using this holy trinity topping, you can never go wrong!
Bake the gratin at 350° until its bubbling hot. Let it cool, then slice, scoop and serve. As I mentioned earlier, it will be even better the next day, especially if you serve it with a bitter green salad.