Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Au Gratin Potatoes

When I made the easy chicken dish last week I was looking for something that would go great on the side.  Specifically a potato dish that could stand alone and also be paired in the future with something like ham, or chicken. I had attempted au gratin potatoes before but had never gotten quite the consistency that I really wanted.  On a side note, are they au gratin? Or scalloped? Or both? Or does it matter? I say so what, who cares?  All au gratin or scalloped debates aside, I was going to make it a point to succeed this time!  I thought about all the problems I had in the past trying to make this cheesy potato goodness, and there were a few things that stuck out.  Consistency and "doneness".  Sometimes they would come out runny, other times everything would be perfect but I would have to bake them for an extra hour just to finish the potatoes.  And let me tell you, an extra hour when everything else is ready to eat is the worst.  It's like getting the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale catalog but the in-store sale doesn't start for a few more days.  Agony. 

So I decided to just do my own thing.  I love trying other people's recipes but nothing was really successful for me.  I decided to slice and boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes until just barely fork tender, and make my sauce while all this was happening.  The result, beautiful, creamy, cheesy potatoes that didn't end up mashed.  Success in my book!

Au Gratin Potatoes
Printable Recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings
4 large or 6 medium size russet potatoes
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
salt & pepper to taste
1/8-1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh garlic)
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices.  Place in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium-high heat and cook potatoes for 8-10 minutes.  Be sure to check the consistency of the potatoes often.  You want to be able to stick your fork in a piece of potato but not break it apart. 
2.  While potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a sauce pan and add flour.  If you use fresh minced garlic, add this with the butter while you are melting it.  Cook flour/butter mixture for a few minutes. This will eliminate the floury taste from your sauce.  Add salt and pepper.  Whisk in the milk and make sure there are no clumps.  Stir in 1-1/2 cups of cheese and add more salt and pepper to your liking. 
3.  Drain the potatoes and spread them in a 2 quart greased baking dish.  Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle remaining cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and return to oven for 10 minutes.
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