Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It Ain't Easy Bein' Cheesy!

Well it didn't take are officially getting a "MISS" blog from my kitchen.  I made the worlds WORST au gratin potatoes!  Let me rephrase, my recipe was ok, my bake time was totally off, and now I that I have reconstructed the recipe I will share with you.  This is what happens when you take 3 or 4 recipes you have tried, and sort of like, and extract the best parts of them to form your own recipe. I was feeling quite cocky about the whole thing, which was probably the first mistake.  I have had some serious kitchen fails,  (hard to believe, I know, HA)  and I think I started them all out with a cocky attitude.  What can I say, I am the happens.  

So anyway, before I get started on the ugly details, lets clarify the difference between "au gratin" and "scalloped" potatoes (or anything for that matter).  Scalloped potatoes are a sliced potato with a milk based sauce.  The sauce is usually thickened and though it can be seasoned with anything, its usually simply seasoned with salt and pepper.  A "gratin" is anything that is topped with bread crumbs and/or include cheese, it also is usually layered with bits of butter.  You can make a variety of vegetable gratins, cauliflower being one of my favorites.  

If you look back at my last blog some of these terms will make more sense when I tell you about my recipe.  I started out slicing my potatoes, skins on, in my food processor.  (How did we live without them?)  I rinsed them and let them sit in the colander while I prepared my sauce.  I made a bechamel sauce, starting with a roux.  I added salt and pepper and mild cheddar cheese, I melted the cheese.  I used cooking spray for the bottom of my 9X13 baking dish and ladeled some sauce in.  I added a layer of potatoes, salt and peppered them, *potatoes are very hard to salt enough*, more sauce, potatoes, salt and pepper, etc.  I ended by sprinking some grated cheese on top.  I popped them in the oven covered for 45 min, uncovered for another 45 min.  They looked GORGEOUS, perfectly browned in just enough places, sizzling and crackling.  By the way, I LOVE the sizzling sound of food right out of the oven!  I serve them up and my husband takes a spoonful, puts some in his mouth and says...."OMG, the potatoes are still crunchy!!!"  Of course I was mortified, but more annoyed over his brutal honesty!  Remember, this is the man who ate an entire bowlful of my famous bread pudding I had accidentally used garlic bread in and never said a word but he couldn't be nicer about my UNDERcooked potatoes?!?!   Anyway, we try putting them in the microwave, but it was futile.  I have a lovely photo of my potatoes to share, just thank God you didnt have to put any in your mouth!  Why is it, on the day you feel great, making a masterpiece  in the kitchen and it flops?!?!  Am I the only one that has ever happened to?  Anyway, to be nice and reward my 27 faithful followers, I am going to share with you the revised recipe, and I hope you will try it and let me know, because this girls au gratin potato days are over for awhile!

It Ain't Easy Bein' Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes
5 cups of sliced potatoes (5 cups AFTER being sliced)
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives (1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp yellow mustard.  (literally just a dot of mustard)
3 cups shredded cheese of your choice I used cheddar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in saucepan and add flour.  Whisk slowly until flour is absorbed by the butter and raw flour taste is cooked out.  Add milk and continue to whisk until all flour lumps are gone.  Add salt and pepper, bring to boil, reduce heat immediately and add mustard, cheese, parsely and chives.  Continue stirring so your sauce does not burn.  When all cheese is melted, remove from heat.   Add a small amount of your sauce to the bottom of your sprayed or buttered baking dish.  Add half of your sliced potatoes.  Salt and pepper potatoes and add half of your cheese sauce.  Add the rest of your potatoes, salt and pepper and the rest of your cheese sauce.   IF your sauce doesn't cover all potatoes, add milk to your baking dish so that the liquid comes to the top level of your potatoes.  It will ensure you have enough liquid to cook the potatoes and create a cheesy sauce.   Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 1 hr.  Check for doneness by sticking a fork in the potatoes and it should come right out.  Your cooking time will very depending on the type of potatoes you use, and the thickness of your potatoes based on size of baking dish.  I suggest checking at 1 hour and go from there.  

Remember salt and pepper are always up to your discretion, just remember potatoes take alot of salt to make them salty enough without being oversalted.  Let me know how it turns out!  I am ending up posting more recipes than I had originally intended but I have already had a request to post them more than just once a week.  

Let me know how these turn out for you.  Half of your week is over! Enjoy the rest and make something delicious to get you through it!  

Work hard, play hard, and try being cheesy!

Your cheesy chefwannabe