Potatoes 2 ways | November 17, 2016

There are rules for a peaceful Thanksgiving gathering.

  • Turkey – there needs to be one, whether it is brined, roasted, or deep-fried
  • Pumpkin Pie – lots of variation options but most people get pretty testy if there is no pumpkin pie in sight.
  • Cranberry Sauce – check out the best cranberry side dish EVER
  •  http://www.tovolo.com/cranberry-sauce-with-dried-apricots-cardamom/
  • Green vegetable and cheese combo casserole – in my family it was Broccoli, orange cheese, and Ritz crackers
  • Stuffing/Dressing – that’s a touchy subject so I am going to go right past…
  • Football – there must be football on somewhere within earshot
  • Mashed Potatoes – family unity depends on mashed potatoes being on the table.

Call me a rebel but I am a fan of two potato dishes on the Thanksgiving table. I like to make people stop and think; to watch the pause they have as they get excited about the mashed potatoes and then realize that there are scalloped potatoes as well. Selfishly, it means I will probably get to eat a scoop of mashed potatoes because the die hards might be torn or try both types of potatoes.

This week I tested out two recipes for my secondary potato offering.  The first was a classic Potato au Gratin. Think creamy, tender Yukon Gold potatoes with a hint of herbaciousness, bubbling and perfectly browned on the top…luscious. The second recipe is for the more modern potato adventurer – Cacio e Pepe Potatoes. If you haven’t jumped on the Cacio e Pepe wagon yet you are missing out!  Literally Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper – with pasta, with potatoes, with cauliflower – how could anything with cheese and pepper be a mistake? The Italians have an amazing cheese called Cacio de Roma.  It is a sheep’s milk cheese that has a nutty, tangy flavor; akin to Pecorino if you can’t find it specifically. Cacio de Roma melts really nicely without separating and has just the right amount of stretchiness, with a unique but pleasant aroma.  (You can’t see me but I am salivating a little bit.)

Both recipes are really straight-forward. The Cacio e Pepe potatoes would be as awesome for a Tuesday night as it will be for Thanksgiving. I consider the Potato Au Gratin a very special treat but I will share a secret with you – this is one of those dishes that make people really happy so serve it with good vibes because people will be weakened by its rich decadent power.

POTATO AU GRATIN

YIELDS 13″ x 9″ pan |  PREP TIME  25 mins + bake time  |  PRINT PDF

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 large)
  • 1 medium leek
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in upper third of oven.
  2. Peel potatoes and thinly cut into 1/8 inch thick slices, using slicer if desired.
  3. Discard dark green part of leek and halve white and light green part lengthwise. Rinse layers under running water to remove any dirt and grit and pat dry. Thinly slice crosswise.
  4. Stir together white pepper and nutmeg with 1 3/4 teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and cook leek and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Spread leek and butter mixture evenly in bottom of baking dish. Arrange one quarter of potatoes in a slightly overlapping layer over leeks, then pour 1/2 cup milk over potatoes, and sprinkle lightly with 1/2 teaspoon salt mixture. Layer potatoes with milk and salt mixture three more times in same manner.
  6. Place dish on a shallow baking pan and cover with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 1 hour.
  7. Remove foil and pour cream over potatoes. Continue to bake, uncovered, until cream has been absorbed by potatoes and top is golden in spots, 30 to 40 minutes.

CACIO e PEPE POTATOES

YIELDS 4  |  PREP TIME  30 minutes  |  PRINT PDF

INGREDIENTS (original receipe from Bon Appetit)
  • 3 pounds new potatoes or baby Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 4 oz. Cacio de Roma or Pecorino, finely grated, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, divided
DIRECTIONS

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 15–20 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer back to pot. Add oil, 1 cup Cacio de Roma or Pecorino, and 1 Tbsp. pepper and toss until cheese is melted and potatoes are coated; season with salt.

Transfer potatoes to a platter and top with the remaining cheese and pepper.