Main course? Side? That's the beauty of this cheesy scalloped potato concoction. It works both ways. You can make it the important standing ovation centerpiece of the meal, serving maybe just a simple green salad on the side and I promise it'll be a winning experience. Or, you could make a main course and serve it as a really special side that people will be talking about for ages. How's that for versatility?!!
I have to say that even though I've owned a mandoline for years, I've been a bit intimidated about making scalloped potatoes. It's not something I grew up eating at home, so to me it has always seemed like fancy, restaurant-only sort of food, the kind that would be a big time flop in my own kitchen. But happily, it turns out I was wrong big time, because it's actually kind of easy to make, especially if you have a mandoline for thinly slicing the potatoes. The majority of the time the dish spends baking in the oven and because it's all made in one skillet, there's barely any clean up!
Once the leeks are sautéed and transferred to a bowl, you layer the potatoes in the same skillet you cooked the leeks in.
Then you top them with some of those softened leeks and then the egg/milk/créme fraiche mixture, creating wonderful layers of flavor.
Eventually the entire thing is covered with grated Gruyére cheese and then popped into the oven to cook so that the potatoes get tender and the cheese gets gooey with a crusty top! Mmmmnn....
Every bite is full of golden brown, creamy cheesy goodness, enhanced by the mellow oniony-ness of leeks and garlic. Main course? Side? Who cares? Just make it and I promise you'll have many happy people!!
One-Skillet Scalloped Potatoes with Gruyére and Leeks
Makes 6 generous servings--if you're using this as a side, you could definitely serve at least 8 people
You need a large oven-proof skillet with this. Also a mandoline or a very sharp knife and a stead hand.
Prep Time: About 30 minutes; Bake Time: About 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing the skillet
- 2-3 large leeks, dark green ends and root ends cut off and discarded, white part cut down the middle in half lengthwise, cut into thin half moons and rinsed well in a colander
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled
- 1 1/4 cups créme fraiche
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 5 ounces freshly grated Gruyére cheese, about 1 1/4 cups (you could also use Swiss or any other cheese you really like)
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet (I used a 12-inch one) over medium heat. Pat the leeks dry with paper towels and add to the pan, along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and golden. Scrape out of the pan into a bowl and set aside.
3. While the leeks are cooking, use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place them in a large bowl and toss with another generous pinch or two of salt and pepper.
3. Once the leeks have been removed from the skillet, add in the créme fraiche, milk, garlic and bay leaves and use a wooden spoon to stir together and scrape any browned bits of leeks off from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, fish out the bay leaves and discard.
4. In a medium, heatproof bowl, gently whisk the eggs together, then slowly and carefully whisk in the hot créme fraiche mixture, whisking all the while.
5. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and grease it with a bit of butter. Layer half of the potatoes in the skillet, overlapping them a bit. Top with half of the leeks, spreading them out evenly. Pour half of the egg mixture all over the leeks and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then arrange the remaining potato slices over that, evenly distribute the rest of the leeks on top and pour the remaining egg mixture over all of it. Sprinkle the Gruyére evenly across the top. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Then, remove the foil and test to see that the potatoes are fork tender. If still a bit hard, return the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Then remove the foil and let bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and starting to turn golden brown. Let cool just a bit and serve.
6. I haven't done this yet, but I suspect you could prepare everything up to the baking part early in the day, cover with the foil, refrigerate and then bake when ready to eat. Unless you bring it to room temperature before baking it, I would definitely tack on extra time during the covered portion of the baking process.
Note: Recipe adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. I tinkered a bit with this one. Left out the 2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage that cooks with the leeks as well as the 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg that goes with the eggs. Also I cut way, way down on the salt and cooked the covered skillet for 20 minutes longer because my potatoes weren't soft enough after the initial 40 minutes.