It’s getting to be that time of year. The time of year when it feels like winter is endless, and spring will never come. The holidays are long over, Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday has passed (for some of us the only day we get off between New Year’s and Memorial Day). The 5-day forecast keeps showing a little grey cloud with streaks underneath it. Is that a mistake? Isn’t that the same graphic they printed last week? Five little grey clouds in a line? It has to be a mistake.
Oh sure, there are a few daffodils pushing through here and there, but mostly everything looks leaden grey; sky, water, mountains.
The remedy for this is the warm stews and comfy baked dishes we were all anxious to make as soon as the air took on the slight nip of fall. All we could think of was making beef stew, roast chicken, and soup, soup, soup. We made some of them, and then the holidays were upon us, and we all started a baking frenzy. Cookies for Santa, cinnamon rolls for a family brunch, rolls to accompany the holiday dinner. Our houses smelt of frankincense and myrrh, chocolate and cinnamon.
But now we’ve all recovered from the holidays, and yet it’s still cold, and still dark. I’ve been making a point of buying fresh flowers for the house, to remind myself that winter can’t last forever. But tulips, while cheering, aren’t very warming, so I’ve also been exploring in magazines, finding things to make that are comforting, but new and exciting.
I recently stumbled on a recipe for gratineed onions, and thought the sauce sounded wonderful. While searching for something to go with our Saturday night steaks, I remembered it. But we had already chosen a vegetable, and what we were really in need of was a starch. I looked at the ingredients and thought, why not make potatoes out of it? And that’s how this version of Potato Gratin Gruyere came to be.
It’s homey and filling, thick with a creamy sherry-spiked sauce, given a zingy twist with some mustard (the original recipe called for both Dijon and whole grain, which you could use in this dish; I chose to use all Dijon for a smoother consistency). The melted Gruyere over the top browns up to a wonderful crust and makes the whole a thing of cheesy goodness.
Make up a big pan of this and serve it with one of those roasts you spent all of September dreaming about. Now is the time!
Potato Gratin Gruyere
adapted from Gourmet magazine, January 2008
6-8 servings, depending on how cold, dark, and/or rainy it is
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup stock
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere or Comte
4 potatoes, about 3 lbs, cut into approximately 1/4 “ thick slices
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add stock and milk and cook about 8 minutes, or until thick. Whisk in the mustard, salt & pepper and cook 3 minutes more. Taste sauce and correct seasoning.
In a large ovenproof casserole, arrange ½ of the potatoes. Spoon ½ of the sauce over the potatoes, making sure to cover them well. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Add the remaining potatoes and top with remaining sauce. Add more salt and pepper, if desired.
Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, and sauce is bubbly. Top with cheese and bake 20 more minutes, or until cheese is golden.