Have you ever made a recipe that is so wonderful you've turned around and made it again the next day? I always feel so totally decadent when I do that! While Connie and I were on the bus on the way to the grand tour of the reindeer farm, I managed to go through several cooking magazines. One of them was the latest Everyday Food. I must've cut out 20 recipes. One was for a bok choy that I served with the fabulous stir fried chicken and celery. On the facing page was a recipe called muffin-pan potato gratins. Friday evening it turned out that Connie wasn't playing bridge. So, there I was at 7:00 pm trying to figure out what to make for dinner that'd use up freezer food. (Remember, I'm trying to clear the freezer for party food room.) A pork tenderloin looked good. And, a quick look revealed a couple of steaks I could toss in the fridge to thaw for Saturday evening. Actually, we typically cook two, split one and have the other leftover in a salad for lunch... Now, what to make with the pork tenderloin? Well, the recipe for the bok choy was still on the counter so the potato gratin one was open too. It looked pretty quick. And, I had half a bag of red potatoes in the pantry. Perfect! I made six thinking we'd have leftovers. No such luck. Saturday when time came to figure out what to make to go with the steaks I asked Connie if he'd like to have the potatoes again. Would he ever. This time I made twelve and we have plenty of leftovers to toss in the salad with the leftover steak.
This is a recipe I'll make over and over again. I did add some garlic and finely shredded romano cheese to the gratins. The original recipe called for salt, pepper and cream. I kept remembering Fletcher Boyd's garlic potatoes - which I believe were originally from BonAppetit and were called Pamela Barrett's Garlic Potatoes. They are just amazing - butter, cream and a LOT of garlic.
So, you want to hear about the reindeer farm before we get to the recipe? Joann Carr from Interlude Tours sent an email out about a one day mystery tour. It was very reasonably priced. And, as I told Connie, if it's not planned totally, I'll not get out of the office. So, we signed up. Our guess was that we were going to a cheese farm.. Then, we got off the interstate and headed west. Hmmm, no clue. Our first stop was Danville, IL to see the work of the Wall Dogs. They're a group of artists who congregate in a community and paint signs on buildings. Here's one of the signs:
Once we'd done a walking tour of the signs, we piled back on the bus and headed off to Rantoul, IL where we toured Hardy's Reindeer Farm. It was the first time I'd seen a reindeer up close and personal. The Hardy's have a herd of about 15 and have about half of them at the public facility at a time. These reindeer LOVE graham crackers. Julie said during one huge snowstorm they walked a drift over the fence and she was able to entice them all back into the pasture with - yup - graham crackers.
Ok, back to recipes here. I can't think of a thing that I'd like to change about these potatoes. But, there's an awful lot that you could do. You could use beef broth instead of cream to dramatically lower the calories. You could add almost any herb. Maybe use some alouette in between the layers. White wine might work. However you make them, they make a beautiful presentation.
Individual Potato Gratins
"B" sized red potatoes
freshly ground pepper
finely shredded romano or parmesan cheese
Slice the potatoes very thinly. A mandoline is best. Be careful to NOT slice your fingers. You'll still have plenty to fill the muffin cups.
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or brush them with unsalted butter.
Lay two slices of potato in each muffin cup.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic.
Add two more slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little grated romano (maybe a teaspoon.) Add two more slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep adding slices and varying the seasoning as you wish. End with just salt and pepper.
Pour one tablespoon of cream over each individual gratin.
Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes.
adapted from Everyday Food