Mmm…can you just smell it now? That beautiful herbaceous scent of sage blending with rich, bubbling cream on the stovetop….cheese browning in the oven on top of thinly sliced potatoes. I’m telling you, this dish is divine in flavor and appearance, impressing everyone you serve — but the best part? It isn’t difficult at all to make.
Gratin is just a fancy way of saying cheesy and baked, so really this post is simply for scalloped potatoes. It is actually a very homey dish and will satisfy any “meat and potato” lover without being too heavy.
This dish is made easier by using a food processor to slice your potatoes, but if you don’t have one, you can use a mandolin or an old-fashioned knife to cut your taters. Just be sure if you use a knife, slice the potatoes as evenly as possible and cut them all in equal thickness. If your slices aren’t about the same, you may have some potatoes that are not completely cooked when you pull this out of the oven.
What you need to make this beauty:
1 1/2 Cups of heavy cream (you can use milk, but it will not be the same…trust me)
4-5 fresh sage leaves
5-6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 Cup of grated, aged manchego cheese (can use any cheese you like — I used a combo of manchego and parmesan in the photos)
Salt — approximately 3/4 tsp or enough to sprinkle on top of each layer you build
Fresh ground pepper — again, enough to season on each layer
1 Tbs butter, cut in small pieces plus butter to grease your baking dish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then liberally grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish or dish of approximate measurement.
In a small sauce pan, add your cream and sage leaves and heat over low to medium heat. You just want to scald this cream, which means heat it just below the boiling point. If you boil it, it will curdle — still useable, but not really what you want when you are trying to infuse it with that sage flavor. Scalding the cream can take a little while, but just make sure you stir it a lot so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Once your cream is nice and warm, turn off the burner and just let it hang out while you slice and assemble your potatoes.
After slicing your potatoes, neatly lay them in your baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom. Take about 1/3 of your grated cheese and sprinkle it on top of your potato layer, then season the potatoes with salt and pepper. The amount of salt depends on your taste, but I’m guessing about 1/4 tsp would be a good guide. Potatoes need salt, ya know!?! Move on to the next layer.
You should assemble about three potato/cheese layers, but don’t put your cheese on the last layer yet. This is where that beautiful scalded, sage infused cream comes in. Take the sage leaves out of your sauce pan and discard them. Pour all of that beautiful, rich cream over your potatoes. They should be just about covered, but not over flowing. Now, add the rest of your cheese, salt and pepper over the potato layers and cream, dot the top with your butter pieces (as if it needed more butter, right?), and cover with foil.
Put your baking dish in the oven (if you are worried about it baking over, place it on top of a baking sheet) and bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more or until golden and bubbly on top.
This is a perfect side dish for a cold winter night, or maybe you just want to eat them as the main dish (guilty!)?