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Potato Gratin - Jacques Pepin

Potato Gratin - Jacques Pepin
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  • Potato Gratin - Jacques Pepin

    Post #1 - July 18th, 2009, 1:23 am
    Post #1 - July 18th, 2009, 1:23 am Post #1 - July 18th, 2009, 1:23 am
    LTH,

    Was browsing channels, came across Jacques Pepin and stopped dead in my tracks. Pepin makes most of the new breed look like clown shoes. Among the recipes in the show, More Fast Food My Way was a dead simple Potato Gratin, which accompanied 8-oz rib-eyes that came as part of a recent Omaha Steaks gift package.

    Potato Gratin

    1-lb sliced, peeled, cooked potatoes
    1-cup heavy cream
    salt, pepper, fresh grated nutmeg
    top with Parmigiano-Reggiano, I used Pecorino
    Bake for 20-minutes at 400-degrees

    Ducks in a row

    Image

    Ready for oven

    Image

    25-Minutes at 400-degrees

    Image

    Bride to Gary, "stop taking pictures already"

    Image

    Dead simple, good overall flavor, I may have overdone the nutmeg. Gratin was a bit runny, either my oven is slow or I need to use a better quality heavy cream, possibly both.

    Pan sear/oven finish Omaha Steaks rib-eye was tasty, on the order of quality choice. This was my first experience with Omaha Steaks, and I have a number of steaks, pork chops, burgers and wieners in the freezer. I'm looking forward to working through this very generous gift.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - July 18th, 2009, 6:05 am
    Post #2 - July 18th, 2009, 6:05 am Post #2 - July 18th, 2009, 6:05 am
    Wow - cooking the potatoes first. Hooda thunk? One reason we rarely do gratin is that it takes so godawful long...thanks, G, it all looks delish! I've long been a fan of Pepin, am always happy when I bump into him on public television...
  • Post #3 - July 18th, 2009, 6:21 am
    Post #3 - July 18th, 2009, 6:21 am Post #3 - July 18th, 2009, 6:21 am
    Mhays wrote:One reason we rarely do gratin is that it takes so godawful long.


    Wish I'd had that recipe this time last year...
    When I met my SO's family for the first time, I brought an undercooked (unbeknownst to me) potatoes au gratin. Of course, I'd gone overboard with the ingredients (high quality gruyere, cream, etc) but I didn't stick a utensil into it to make sure it was cooked enough and it tasted awful. One of the little kids there got pinched under the table by his dad for giving his honest opinion about it ("yuck", I believe it was). Of course, when we brought the leftovers (lots of them) home and cooked it some more, it tasted great....

    Anyhow, I'll have to try this--sounds a little more foolproof.
  • Post #4 - July 18th, 2009, 6:28 am
    Post #4 - July 18th, 2009, 6:28 am Post #4 - July 18th, 2009, 6:28 am
    G Wiv wrote:Gratin was a bit runny, either my oven is slow or I need to use a better quality heavy cream, possibly both.


    I really like gratins; they're winter staples for me. Because you were doing it Pepin's "fast way," and the potatoes were pre-cooked, I'm thinking you could just have used less cream to avoid any runniness. (1c. heavy cream:1-lb. potato seems like too much cream too me.) I usually make them with raw, thinly sliced potatoes that give off their starch during cooking, which helps to thicken the sauce. However, the baking time is much longer than 25 minutes. A large gratin I make for the holidays usually takes over an hour to fully cook and thicken the sauce.

    Periodically checking the doneness of the potatoes, as thaiobsessed points out, is a must as well.
  • Post #5 - July 18th, 2009, 7:14 am
    Post #5 - July 18th, 2009, 7:14 am Post #5 - July 18th, 2009, 7:14 am
    aschie30 wrote:I usually make them with raw, thinly sliced potatoes that give off their starch during cooking, which helps to thicken the sauce.


    +1

    I don't think there is much "free" starch to be given off with the cooked potatoes. I also don't rinse the raw potato slices in order to preserve the starch. Maybe mix in a little flour or purchased potato starch?
  • Post #6 - July 18th, 2009, 7:33 am
    Post #6 - July 18th, 2009, 7:33 am Post #6 - July 18th, 2009, 7:33 am
    G Wiv wrote:Dead simple, good overall flavor, I may have overdone the nutmeg. Gratin was a bit runny, either my oven is slow or I need to use a better quality heavy cream, possibly both.

    Runny, not runny . . . still looks very tasty. Being that I'm always one to overdo nutmeg (love the stuff), I think I'd be pretty damn happy if that dinner were served to me (including the beautiful steak and melting dab of butter).

    This is my go-to potato gratin recipe . . . just love it. I'm a big fan of blue cheese and rosemary, so I slightly reduce the amount of cream and increase the amount of blue cheese (I also did this because I initially found it to be a tad runny) and I throw in a bit of fresh rosemary.
  • Post #7 - July 18th, 2009, 8:08 am
    Post #7 - July 18th, 2009, 8:08 am Post #7 - July 18th, 2009, 8:08 am
    aschie30 wrote:Because you were doing it Pepin's "fast way," and the potatoes were pre-cooked,

    Wendy,

    Possibly a concession to "fast way" but Pepin mentions this was a recipe his mother made growing up and says he likes his potatoes completely cooked, not crunchy/nouvelle.

    Not saying Pepin doesn't know 80 ways from Sunday to make a gratin, but this specific recipe did not seem a concession, at least how it was presented.

    aschie30 wrote:A large gratin I make for the holidays usually takes over an hour to fully cook and thicken the sauce.

    Love to see your recipe.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - July 18th, 2009, 9:29 am
    Post #8 - July 18th, 2009, 9:29 am Post #8 - July 18th, 2009, 9:29 am
    Gary,

    Looks so good, I have altered plans to do whipped potatoes today and am going to try this instead. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Best,
    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #9 - July 18th, 2009, 10:02 am
    Post #9 - July 18th, 2009, 10:02 am Post #9 - July 18th, 2009, 10:02 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:Because you were doing it Pepin's "fast way," and the potatoes were pre-cooked,
    Possibly a concession to "fast way" but Pepin mentions this was a recipe his mother made growing up and says he likes his potatoes completely cooked, not crunchy/nouvelle.

    Not saying Pepin doesn't know 80 ways from Sunday to make a gratin, but this specific recipe did not seem a concession, at least how it was presented.


    Yes, Pepin likes to pontificate on the virtues of eating fully cooked vegetables (although I don't think anyone willingly eats undercooked potatoes; could be wrong). Interesting that his Mom made it with precooked potatoes - I assumed that was part of Pepin's "fast" methodology.

    GWiv wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:A large gratin I make for the holidays usually takes over an hour to fully cook and thicken the sauce.

    Love to see your recipe.


    The problem is that I usually divert so significantly from recipes and then I don't know what I did in that particular moment when I made the dish. It's a pretty simple dish, though, so I will see what I can dig up or put together for a recipe and post back here.
  • Post #10 - July 18th, 2009, 10:28 am
    Post #10 - July 18th, 2009, 10:28 am Post #10 - July 18th, 2009, 10:28 am
    aschie30 wrote:(although I don't think anyone willingly eats undercooked potatoes; could be wrong).


    There is a dish served at LSC that features very undercooked potatoes. I know Evil Ronnie is a fan.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - July 18th, 2009, 10:31 am
    Post #11 - July 18th, 2009, 10:31 am Post #11 - July 18th, 2009, 10:31 am
    I think basically anything you do to potatoes when you layer and bake them - it's all good :)

    I do one that is layered potatoes and onions and garlic with some chicken stock (salt and pepper and herbs to taste, I use thyme and rosemary). All of the yummy, none of the dairy! I think that recipe came from Patricia Wells. She also suggests one that is layered potatoes and veggies (peppers, tomato, zucchini, etc) - kind of like a baked potato ratatouille. I don't think it has eggplant in it, though.

    Of course, the ones with cheese and cream are most excellent as well :)
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #12 - July 18th, 2009, 11:09 am
    Post #12 - July 18th, 2009, 11:09 am Post #12 - July 18th, 2009, 11:09 am
    Let's talk Le Creuset gratin dishes for a moment. I have the exact same one as Gary, and for the life of me I:

    1. can't get that label off
    2. can't get the interior enameled surface back to a neutral color without stains / scorch marks

    This is very puzzling, since my other Le Creuset pots clean up beautifully. Any hints for removing stains / labels from enameled cookware which is used at higher heat settings?

    I love Pepin and this recipe and Gary's execution look great to me. I also coincidentally had crunchy "undercooked" potatoes at Spring World yesterday, along with the best cold sesame noodles in the city.
  • Post #13 - July 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    Post #13 - July 19th, 2009, 8:41 am Post #13 - July 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    Santander wrote:1. can't get that label off
    2. can't get the interior enameled surface back to a neutral color without stains / scorch marks

    - Along with with pillow cases and mattresses Le Creuset labels are on for a lifetime.
    - I don't mind a little darkening in spots, simply what happens when you use your equipment. That said, when I want to get out reluctant stains/baked on sludge etc I use kosher salt as an abrasive. On stainless steel, such as the inside of All-Clad, a little lemon juice added to the salt adds a nice shine.

    On another note, pan fried leftover potato gratin goes nicely with over easy eggs for Sunday breakfast.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - July 19th, 2009, 9:44 am
    Post #14 - July 19th, 2009, 9:44 am Post #14 - July 19th, 2009, 9:44 am
    Santander wrote:2. can't get the interior enameled surface back to a neutral color without stains / scorch marks


    Probably a waste of money, but Sur La Table sells a special cleaner for Le Creusets. Can't say it does anything different than kosher salt and lemon juice, but I feel like my Le Creuset is cleaner after using it. It's an option, anyway.

    Have you tried washing the label with straight white vinegar to get it off?
  • Post #15 - July 19th, 2009, 10:03 am
    Post #15 - July 19th, 2009, 10:03 am Post #15 - July 19th, 2009, 10:03 am
    On some other forums, people have reported success with WD-40, and/or with oily food products such as mayonnaise, peanut butter, and lemon oil.

    For getting the Le Creuset label off, that is. Not for the gratin.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #16 - July 19th, 2009, 10:22 am
    Post #16 - July 19th, 2009, 10:22 am Post #16 - July 19th, 2009, 10:22 am
    Gary,

    I'm a sucker for dishes that combine potatoes with lots of cream, and your gratin looks excellent. Re. the runniness, my perhaps overly simplistic question would be whether you waited long enough before serving. Maybe you should have ignored Ms Wiv and kept taking pictures :) . I find that potato gratins need to rest at least 15 minutes before you dig into them, which makes a very big difference in the runniness level.

    Kenny
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #17 - July 19th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Post #17 - July 19th, 2009, 10:39 am Post #17 - July 19th, 2009, 10:39 am
    aschie30 wrote:
    Santander wrote:2. can't get the interior enameled surface back to a neutral color without stains / scorch marks


    Probably a waste of money, but Sur La Table sells a special cleaner for Le Creusets. Can't say it does anything different than kosher salt and lemon juice, but I feel like my Le Creuset is cleaner after using it. It's an option, anyway.

    Have you tried washing the label with straight white vinegar to get it off?


    I use Barkeeper's Friend as my stain remover. I'm not sure what is in it, but it gets out stains that other, more abrasive, cleansers are unable to tackle.

    Jyoti
    Jyoti
    A meal, with bread and wine, shared with friends and family is among the most essential and important of all human rituals.
    Ruhlman
  • Post #18 - July 19th, 2009, 10:44 am
    Post #18 - July 19th, 2009, 10:44 am Post #18 - July 19th, 2009, 10:44 am
    jygach wrote:I use Barkeeper's Friend as my stain remover. I'm not sure what is in it, but it gets out stains that other, more abrasive, cleansers are unable to tackle.


    According to this, it's oxalic acid, as opposed to bleach, as in Comet.
  • Post #19 - July 19th, 2009, 2:11 pm
    Post #19 - July 19th, 2009, 2:11 pm Post #19 - July 19th, 2009, 2:11 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    jygach wrote:I use Barkeeper's Friend as my stain remover. I'm not sure what is in it, but it gets out stains that other, more abrasive, cleansers are unable to tackle.


    According to this, it's oxalic acid, as opposed to bleach, as in Comet.


    When we used to have one of those aweful ceramic topped electric stoves, Barkeeper's Friend was the only thing that would keep the cooktop clean.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - July 19th, 2009, 3:10 pm
    Post #20 - July 19th, 2009, 3:10 pm Post #20 - July 19th, 2009, 3:10 pm
    I had to throw my 2 cents in on this thread because I'm a big fan of Potatoes Au Gratin and also Pepin. A few years ago I had potatoes au gratin in Paris and was hooked. I've been trying to replicate the recipe and although have come close, my memory of those Parisian potatoes are just untouchable. Anyway, a couple of things:

    1. easy on the nutmeg - yes, I love it as well but a very little goes a long way.
    2. In researching potatoes au gratin, I've finally adapted a recipe from Escoffier's Ma Cuisine (copyright 1934, translated 1965, 2nd edition 1966). Although with his "regular" potatoes au gratin, he pre-cooks the potatoes, but for his "Gratin de pommes de terre dauphinoise - Potatoes au Gratin Dauphinoise" he doesn't. He includes a beaten egg and uses boiled milk instead of cream. I've used cream and infused it with garlic, rosemary and thyme and like that adaptation. He instructs one to rub the casserole with garlic instead of adding it to the mix. Either way, your safe but it seems the classic ways are simpler with milder flavors.
    3. Always use a russet style potato. I tried it with Yukon Gold once and after 90 minutes in the oven they still weren't cooked through. Also, like mentioned upthread - let it reast for a good 10-15 minutes. Once the cream cools, it thickens.
    4. I believe the Le Crueset instructions recommend using bleach to get stains out of the enamel.

    Great post. Not much goes better with steak than a nice gratin...
    "It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
  • Post #21 - July 26th, 2009, 6:25 am
    Post #21 - July 26th, 2009, 6:25 am Post #21 - July 26th, 2009, 6:25 am
    Looks very good. I always make mine with raw potatoes and its never runny. But a suggestion would be to layer a little parmesan throughout the dish not only on top as this will blend with the cream during baking and possibly make it less runny. I do think the starch from raw potatoes helps to thicken.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #22 - July 26th, 2009, 10:30 pm
    Post #22 - July 26th, 2009, 10:30 pm Post #22 - July 26th, 2009, 10:30 pm
    Potato Gratin - Take Two

    I incorporated ideas from upthread, layering the cheese, longer slower baking, russet for additional starch and letting the gratin sit for 10-minutes before serving. I liked the results, looking forward to Take Three.

    Changes made, russet potatoes baked 3/4ths of the way through, pecorino between the layers and a lighter hand with the nutmeg. 2-cups of heavy cream instead of one and longer slower cooking time. (50-minutes at 350).

    Potato Gratin - Take Two

    Image
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - July 28th, 2009, 10:13 am
    Post #23 - July 28th, 2009, 10:13 am Post #23 - July 28th, 2009, 10:13 am
    Wow, G!
  • Post #24 - July 28th, 2009, 11:01 am
    Post #24 - July 28th, 2009, 11:01 am Post #24 - July 28th, 2009, 11:01 am
    On the question of quality of cream:
    I recall that in my very early days as dogsbody for Bennison's Bakery, Jory Downer told me that the giant bags of cream we used there had a much higher fat content than any "heavy" cream you could by retail. At the time I knew the actual percentage, but I don't remember at the moment. I wonder if anyone here with professional connections can verify or suggest an outlet for civilians to lay their hands on pro-level cream.
    I'm sure that if Pepin is producing this recipe for mass consumption, he's not secretly using super-cream. But your comment about the first attempt reminded me of that bit of trivia and made me think that surely a gratin would benefit if such cream could be sourced.
    (That second outing picture is a beauty.)
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #25 - July 28th, 2009, 11:30 am
    Post #25 - July 28th, 2009, 11:30 am Post #25 - July 28th, 2009, 11:30 am
    mrbarolo wrote:On the question of quality of cream:
    ...made me think that surely a gratin would benefit if such cream could be sourced.

    Trader Joe's sells a pasteurized heavy cream as opposed to many that are ultra-pasteurized that I used for gratin I made the other day. I highly recommend it.
  • Post #26 - July 28th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    Post #26 - July 28th, 2009, 2:10 pm Post #26 - July 28th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    mrbarolo wrote:On the question of quality of cream:
    I recall that in my very early days as dogsbody for Bennison's Bakery, Jory Downer told me that the giant bags of cream we used there had a much higher fat content than any "heavy" cream you could by retail. At the time I knew the actual percentage, but I don't remember at the moment. I wonder if anyone here with professional connections can verify or suggest an outlet for civilians to lay their hands on pro-level cream.
    I'm sure that if Pepin is producing this recipe for mass consumption, he's not secretly using super-cream. But your comment about the first attempt reminded me of that bit of trivia and made me think that surely a gratin would benefit if such cream could be sourced.
    (That second outing picture is a beauty.)


    Some notes for us non-pros (taken from ATK 2007 Companion Book):

    Under the US Gov Code of Regulations:
    -heavy cream must consist of 36% milk fat
    -whipping cream (aka light whipping cream) at least 30% but not more than 36%

    Also to note are the additives:
    -heavy cream may contain mono and/or diglycerides to assist in adding air during the whipping process; as well as carrageenan to help hold the peaks
    -whipping cream may also have these additives as well as polysorbate 80 which helps create stiff peaks.

    One more thing is that most of the commercial creams you buy in the supermarket will be ultrapasteurized and heated to 280+ degrees. Although it extends the shelf life, it also destroys some proteins in the cream that promote whipping.

    Your best bet, if you can find it, is pasteurized cream (this will list the ingredients as: cream). It is only heated to 145-161 degrees, which will affect its shelf life (usually good for about 2-3 weeks). The other thing is that pasteurized heavy cream (with no additives) typically has a fat content of about 40%.

    The higher the fat (and less heated) the longer the hold and better the taste (typically). For this application, it will probably result in a thicker gratin, if that's what you're looking for. Good luck...
    "It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
  • Post #27 - July 28th, 2009, 2:32 pm
    Post #27 - July 28th, 2009, 2:32 pm Post #27 - July 28th, 2009, 2:32 pm
    tyrus wrote:Also to note are the additives:
    -heavy cream may contain mono and/or diglycerides to assist in adding air during the whipping process; as well as carrageenan to help hold the peaks
    -whipping cream may also have these additives as well as polysorbate 80 which helps create stiff peaks.

    One more thing is that most of the commercial creams you buy in the supermarket will be ultrapasteurized and heated to 280+ degrees. Although it extends the shelf life, it also destroys some proteins in the cream that promote whipping.

    So does this mean that, if the ingredients list specifies carrageenan and/or polysorbate 80, no additional stabilizer (i.e. gelatin or agar) is needed, whereas if the container says "ultrapasteurized", extra stabilizer will be needed?

    Or is it best to avoid both when possible, and stick with the normally-pasteurized stuff with no additives?
  • Post #28 - July 28th, 2009, 2:56 pm
    Post #28 - July 28th, 2009, 2:56 pm Post #28 - July 28th, 2009, 2:56 pm
    The Blue Marble Dairy cream, available at the Green City Market and the Evanston Farmer's Market, is outstanding. It's just the real thing, pasteurized, I believe with no additives. I don't want to know the butterfat content.

    Jonah
  • Post #29 - July 28th, 2009, 3:26 pm
    Post #29 - July 28th, 2009, 3:26 pm Post #29 - July 28th, 2009, 3:26 pm
    Khaopaat wrote:
    tyrus wrote:Also to note are the additives:
    -heavy cream may contain mono and/or diglycerides to assist in adding air during the whipping process; as well as carrageenan to help hold the peaks
    -whipping cream may also have these additives as well as polysorbate 80 which helps create stiff peaks.

    One more thing is that most of the commercial creams you buy in the supermarket will be ultrapasteurized and heated to 280+ degrees. Although it extends the shelf life, it also destroys some proteins in the cream that promote whipping.

    So does this mean that, if the ingredients list specifies carrageenan and/or polysorbate 80, no additional stabilizer (i.e. gelatin or agar) is needed, whereas if the container says "ultrapasteurized", extra stabilizer will be needed?

    Or is it best to avoid both when possible, and stick with the normally-pasteurized stuff with no additives?


    I think, in essence, that it means when you heat or take fat out of the cream, you need to supplement something to make it whip/peak. Higher the fat, the less the need for stabilizers. I'm not sure if that really answers your question but that's about how much I know about it. Sorry...
    "It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
  • Post #30 - July 28th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    Post #30 - July 28th, 2009, 7:05 pm Post #30 - July 28th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    In theory, pasteurized should whip better than ultrapasteurized, given identical fat levels, because ultrapasteurization denatures more of the proteins that support the foam. But either should make a decent whipped cream. The additives, if they're in there, are just there for insurance. But, depending on your application, if you need to further stabilize the foam, a little gelatin or carageenan (aka Irish moss) couldn't hurt.

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