Light and Rustic Gratin Potatoes

I’ve mentioned before that Owen is a picky eater. He does, however, like potatoes. It’s probably the Irish in him. And since I’m weak and don’t like dealing with this, I give into Owen’s demands and make a lot of starchy dishes.

Owen also loves cheese. Potatoes + Cheese = Gratin = Happy Owen.

I must confess that I also love cheesy potatoes (who doesn’t?), so my tummy doesn’t mind making this dish for Little O.

BUT, my gratin potatoes are a bit different from the classic version. Real potatoes au gratin are made with heavy cream and topped with cheese. Mine are lighter (as light as you can get with a creamy dish made with potatoes and cheese) and rustic (i.e. not sliced perfectly). I make them slightly more sophisticated by using a combination of cheeses.

So here you go…a light but not really healthy gratin potatoes recipe!

You’ll need:

6-8 potatoes
4 garlic cloves
2 cups whole milk
3 to 4 tablespoons flour
1 cup cheese (any combination of kinds)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, softened
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Liberally spread the softened butter on the bottom and sides of a square baking dishing. This is no time to be stingy with the butter.
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Now on to the potatoes.
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Note: If Owen did not exist, I would leave the skins on the potatoes. I HATE peeling potatoes and avoid this chore at all costs. But since I’m becoming one of those parents that caters to their children, I took the extra time and effort to remove the skins. If you do not have a picky eater in your house, I highly recommend scrubbing your potatoes clean and leaving the skins on. Then your potatoes can be extra rustic and even more delicious.

Slice the potatoes into quarters (or half circles, I just like smaller pieces). Try to keep the slices about the same size (around a half inch), but no need to pull out a ruler.
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That’s a big ol’ pile of potatoes!
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Roughly mince the garlic cloves. If you’re not a garlic lover like myself, you may want to use less than four cloves. If you’re a garlic addict like me, you may want to add more cloves like I did.
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Grate the cheese. I used locatelli, pepato and sharp cheddar cheeses. Use whatever combination you’d like, although I do not recommend a bunch of really mild cheeses like provolone and mozzarella. You want to add flavor to the potatoes, so use cheeses that are sharp not mellow.
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Next, make the gratin sauce. This is where the light part comes in – I use whole milk instead of heavy cream. I’ve found that the potatoes taste just as creamy. Not only is it healthier, it’s also way cheaper.

Whisk the milk, garlic and flour together. Stir in freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.
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Time to assemble the gratin!

Place half the potatoes on the bottom of the buttered up dish.
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Pour half of the milk mixture over the potatoes. Hmmmm. Smell that garlic?
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Evenly scatter about 1/3 of the cheese over the potatoes.
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Then place the rest of the potatoes on top, followed by the remaining milk mixture. Scatter about half of the remaining cheese over the potatoes.
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Cover’em with some foil and pop it in the oven.
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Bake for about 30 minutes, then take the foil off and put them back in the oven for 20 minutes or so. You may need to leave them in longer – check and make sure the potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Top the baked potatoes with the rest of the cheese (I also sprinkled some grated Parmesan over the top just cause I had some on hand. Why not, right?). Then pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted, just like it was destined to be.
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Let the dish rest for about 10 minutes before serving, so the potatoes can soak in all the juices and firm up.

After those never-ending 10 minutes have finally passed, feel free to devour this not-so-guilty-pleasure. I won’t even judge you if you don’t save any for your kids.

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