Pommes de Terre Gratinées ~”Potatoes with Cheese”~

 

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A Gratin is a culinary technique in which a casserole recipe is topped with a browned crust, from breadcrumbs, grated cheese, sometimes eggs and or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine, and is usually prepared in a shallow cooking vessel. The flavors are rich and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for preparing the baking dish

2 fresh leeks

1 ½ pounds peeled Yukon gold potatoes

1/4-1/2 pound pancetta, chopped in medium dice or center cut bacon.( Optional)

1 cup heavy cream or nut milk

1/3 cup chicken stock or veg stock

2 garlic cloves, cleaned and smashed root ball in tact

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350’F degrees.

Prepare a 2-quart gratin dish or a casserole dish by generously rubbing the inside with softened butter. Place on a lined high sided cookie sheet and set aside.

Trim the leek’s root ball, and cut off most of the green stem. Slice down the center lengthwise.Wash the leeks thoroughly between the layers to remove any grit and slice again thinly on the crosswise, into 1/4 inch strips.

Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the potatoes into1/8 inch disks. Toss with salt and pepper. Layer the rounds, slightly over lapping one another- from left-to-right, or in a circle — bottom-to top, in the buttered gratin dish.

In a small sauce pan cook the pancetta until crispy. About 3-5 minutes- drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat- melt the butter. Add the leeks, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh salt pepper. Add the thyme. Cook stirring occasionally until leeks are tender and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and scatter the cooked leeks over the sliced potatoes.

While the leeks are cooking, heat the cream, the chicken stock with the garlic, and bay leaf in an additional saucepan. Simmer for about 5 minutes until flavors are infused in the cream. Add nutmeg and white pepper.

Sprinkle the pancetta ( reserving 1/2 ) on top of the cooked leeks, pour the cream over the leeks and potatoes and pancetta. Top with the Gruyère. Cover with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 40- 50 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the reserved crispy pancetta and garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings

Loaded – Jalapeno Popper Potato Skins!

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Ingredients:

3-4 jalapeños

2 pounds small round baby potatoes, about 2 inches in size.

2 Tablespoons organic canola or vegetable oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 pound pancetta or center cut strip bacon, cooked crisp, drained of excess fat, and crumbled

Garnish Toppings

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch chives, chopped fine

1 tomato, small diced

10 black olives, chopped fine

Lime wedges

Method:

1-Place oven rack to top position and preheat your broiler to high.

2-Place the jalapeños onto a foil-lined baking sheet and broil,turning occasionally. Broil until skins are black and blistered on all sides. Or place on your outdoor grill for the same affect. Once skins are blisters and blackened,remove peppers to a brown paper lunch bag, or a plastic gallon- sized food storage bag. Seal.

3-When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel away skin with the sharp part of a paring knife scraping away from you onto a paper towel. Slice open and remove seeds. Discard skin and seeds. ( I wear gloves when handling peppers and seeds- do not touch your face. If you get caption on your skin and it is burning, wash with whole milk or anything high in fat. )

4-Dice peppers fine, and add to a small mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and mix well. Set aside at room temperature.

5-Place an oven rack to center portion of your oven. Adjust temperature to 400′ F degrees.

6-While oven is warming. Wash and dry potatoes. Place into a large food storage bag or bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic salt. Toss to coat all sides.

7-Place potatoes on a foil lined, high-sided baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center goes in easily. Remove from the oven and set to cool.Turn oven heat up to 450’F degrees.

8-When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon gently scoop out warm potato flesh, leaving 1/8″ potato inside the skin — ( save potato flesh, and use for mashed potatoes  during another mealtime)

9-Brush the inside of each halved potato with remaining oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper and place facing up on the foiled lined high sided baking sheet again and place back into the hot over for an additional 10 minutes until dry and edges are getting crispy. Remove and cool slightly.

10- Fill each potato skin with 1 teaspoon roasted jalapeño cream cheese mixture, top with pancetta or bacon and grated cheddar cheese.

11-Broil for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

12-Remove from oven, and serve with sides of sour cream, chopped chives, diced tomatoes, black olives and lime wedges

Serve warm and crispy!

*Make variations by adding grilled and finely chopped, Carne Asade steak or ground taco seasoned cooked ground hamburger to the bottom of the potato skin before filing with cream cheese mixture.

Potato possibilities

We’re a little late on this. Potato month was in February, but the starchy delicious crop is good for things other than being fried and served with ketchup. There are plenty of uses for potatoes around the house. And, if you have extras lying around the house, consider using potatoes for these reasons:

Flowers – keep your flowers upright without using foam. Cut a large potato in half. Use a skewer or an ice pick to poke holes for the stems. Place it at the bottom of the vase and make a super pretty arrangement!  

Stamp – the great thing about potatoes is how easily you can make a cute stamp! Scrape a pattern and use the stamp for art around the house, to decorate birthday bags or even wrapping paper. This is a great activity with kids. And, you most likely have all the things you need already in the house.

Rust – it doesn’t make rust, potatoes can help you remove it from cast iron, baking pans and gardening tools. The potato acid dissolves rust. This is a great tip for the kitchen where you don’t want to use any toxic rust removers.

Light bulb – when a light bulb breaks while being removed, simply cut a potato in half. Stick the flat end into the socket, turn and pull. You’ll remove the broken part safely.

Compress – ever notice how your hot potato stays, well, hot? In need of an ice pack or a hot compress, consider using a potato when no other options are available. It will keep the temperature you need for a while.

Tarnish – remove tarnish from silverware by soaking them in potato water for an hour. After, simply wash as normal and they’ll be super pretty again.