Gratin simply means “with a browned crust of bread crumbs and cheese” or, “Yummy, creamy and Melty.” OK, that last one is just mine, but in my opinion, pretty darn accurate. Sadly, too many people have never formed a relationship with Gratin outside of a dehydrated Betty Crocker box that my Grandmother called “Potatoes All Rotten”. Y’all are missing out. Homemade Gratins are fantastic and easy and will most likely always grace my holiday tables. This one is my favorite. I hope that if you are one of those who still bares the scars of adolescent forced prepackaged food trauma, that you will give this recipe a try. Really, its like therapy.
3 large leeks
1/2 a large red onion
8 medium sized red potatoes, peeled
1/4 stick of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz of artichoke hearts (2 small jars, drained)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Swiss or Gruyere plus 1/2 cup, divided
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Slice the leeks, onion, and potatoes to an even 1/4 inch thickness, a mandolin slicer is the easiest & fastest way to do this. I tend towards simple kitchen gadgets, similar to this one:http://www.norpro.com/store/products/mandoline-slicergrater-wguard
If I were writing this for one of those cooking contests I love to enter, I would tell you to boil the potatoes for 5 minutes in lightly salted water. BUT for you, I’ll give the shortcut. In a microwave safe bowl, add the potatoes and cover completely with water. Microwave for about 8 minutes or until you are able to get a fork through the potatoes, but they are still a little firm, check after 5 minutes in case your microwave is WAY more powerful than mine, it’s old. This will allow all the veggies to cook at the same rate while in the oven rather than over cooking some and under cooking others.
In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, heat the butter until melted. Add the garlic, onions, & leeks and cook until soft and slightly caramelized. Then add the cream, salt and pepper and reduce heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add one cup of the cheese and the artichokes and cook until cheese is melted.
Add another layer of potatoes and another layer of veggies. Spoon about 1/2 a cup of the remaining cheesy cream mixture that the veggies where just in, onto the gratin. Top with remaining 1/2 cup Swiss cheese and then Panko, salt and pepper.
Cover in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top lives up to its Gratin title and the center is no longer cold. You can also make this a day ahead of time, just increase the cooking time to 30 minutes covered and then 20 uncovered if it’s out-of-the-fridge-cold.