In order to make a great Gratin, one of my favorite things from my childhood, the one item kitchen item that you need is a mandoline. Though not online at the moment, the Oxo Mandoline, which is what we have, is available at The Happy Cook, or by calling 434-977-2665. The Oxo Mandoline, comes with straight and wavy blades that can be set to any slice thickness and are ideal for making cucumber salad, potato chips, onion rings, citrus slices, french fries, carrot sticks and garnishes with the thin and thick julienne blades. I made Gratin Dauphinois or what my mother called Scalloped Potatoes.
The “gratin,” comes from the French meaning “to scrape” or the “scrapings” of bread or cheese that is often found in casserole dishes with a crusty top. The Dauphine, a region in France, is part of southeastern France that since the time of the French Revolution has has been divided into three departments, Isère, Drôme and Hautes-Alpes and is the site of the Dauphine Libere, a yearly tune up for those who will ride in Le Tour de France cycling race.
A mandoline is something every kitchen should have. You can use it to slice up some potatoes, like in this case for the Gratin, or for slicing carrots or any vegetable you can imagine. We often use our mandoline to slice squash and zucchini for grilling during the summer. For this recipe I grabbed some leftover spiral ham we had in the freezer and added that to the Gratin.
Using a mandoline is great for getting all of your slices exactly the same width, which helps with presentation but most importantly with cooking time. When baking and frying, having the same size ensures the cooking time will be the same for all the items in your pan. Another great reason to have a mandoline is that it takes the “danger” out of a lot of kitchen knife work. Because the blades are protected, and it comes with a carrier to hold the item to be cut, a mandoline used correctly can be fast, safe, and really efficient.
Next I diced up some of the leftover ham, and Utah and Normand were good about helping with those unused scraps, and then chopped some fresh sage that we had to add some more flavor.
I grated some Gruyere, a cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that is a bit salty and nutty and is great for things like quiche and yes, Gratin, and added that to the pile of things I was collecting. Once all the ingredients were prepped, I put some butter to melt in a pan, and added some flour to create a bit of a roux and added milk to the mix. I also added a couple of table spoons of sour cream and the Gruyere and grated in nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste and that was done.
After using a wisk to bring this all together over a medium heat, I layered the the potatoes and ham in my stoneware pan, and poured the creamy mixture over it, and did the same a number of times. I finished with a bit of grated sharp cheddar on top and put the mix into the oven covered for about an hour.
A mandoline is perfect for veggies, and firm fruits like apples, pears and the like, and is essential in every kitchen. Be sure and pick up a mandoline at The Happy Cook, and check on line for more classes and events happing in the coming month.
Cheers – JI