If you’re thinking of a good side dish for your roast or steak and you feel that it’s time to take a break from mashed potatoes, then it’s time to learn how to make a gratin. Technically, a gratin is a method of food preparation rather than a dish. Breadcrumbs or cheese, or both, are sprinkled on top of cooked food (often, vegetables) layered in a baking dish then everything is baked or broiled until the top is browned and a light crust is formed. The origin is French but you don’t have to be French to make a gratin and enjoy it.
I made my first gratin a couple of weeks ago with layers of potatoes, onions and crumbled sausages. In between the layers were generous amounts of butter and cream. The sausage, onion and potato gratin was so good — and filling — that we ended up eating it, with bread, as a main dish.
- 1 kg. of potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rings
2 to 3 large white onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rings
1 sausage (pepperoni is especially good), about 100 grams, or substitute ham or bacon
1/3 c. of butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 c. of cream
3/4 c. of grated cheese
- Place the sliced potatoes in a pan. Pour enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook for about four minutes, add the onions, cook for another minute then drain and dump into a bowl of iced water to refresh. Drain well.
The potatoes will be only half cooked at this point because you’re still going to cook them in the oven.
Press the sausage meat out of its casing. Discard the casing; crumble the sausage meat. Pan fry without adding any oil just until the pieces start to turn crisp. Cool.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Butter the sides and bottom of a shallow baking pan.
Arrange the potato slices to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the onion rings and half of the sausage meat. Scatter half of the butter. Pour in half of the cream. Repeat the layering. Smother the top with the grated cheese.
Bake or broil (if your oven can bake and broil at the same time, that’s even better) for about 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. By this time, the potatoes would have absorbed the cream and the drippings from the sausage meat. Delicious!
Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: supper