Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wild Mushroom Potato Gratin

As I’ve said before, side dishes can be troublesome, but build up your recipe repertoire with impressive sides and you will dazzle your family and guests.  I’m still cooking for my dad, but happily, my mother has joined him having recently returned home from rehab.  I made this potato recipe along with the pork chops I’ll show you tomorrow, plated them, and served them with a side of broccoli and received high praise.  My mother, who has a bit of difficulty getting to the phone, called me to tell me how good the meal was, Oh, those POTATOES! she raved.  (This from a woman who can take them or leave them.)  Thin layers of russet potatoes, sandwiched between a single layer of wild mushrooms, and topped with creamy Fontina and nutty Gruyère make this a dish worth remembering.  I made these one day and served them the next, so while I wouldn’t encourage making them ahead, it can be done, and they are delicious.

Wild Mushroom Potato Gratin
Adapted from a recipe on

1 .5 oz. package Melissa’s dried porcini mushrooms
5 large, fresh crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 oz. warm water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lb. russet potatoes
3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup grated Gruyère
½ cup grated Fontina

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a 9 x 9 square pan with two sheets of parchment, allowing each piece to hang over the edge of the pan by about two inches.  Spray parchment with Pam.  Set aside.

Hydrate the mushrooms in the warm water for 1 hour.  Line a fine mesh sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and strain the rehydrated mushrooms, reserving liquid.* Rough chop the porcinis.

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan.  Cook criminis with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes, then toss in the porcinis and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add ½ teaspoon of the garlic and continue to cook, stirring for one minute more.  Set aside.

Peel potatoes and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices (preferably with an adjustable-blade slicer). Bring potatoes, cream, milk, salt, white pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic to a boil in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot, stirring once or twice, then remove from heat.

Transfer half of potatoes to parchment-lined pan with a slotted spoon, spreading evenly. Spread mushrooms evenly over potatoes, then top with remaining potatoes. Pour cooking liquid over potatoes and sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake gratin until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to set.  Using the edges of the parchment paper, carefully lift potatoes from pan and move to a cutting board.  
With a 3 round, metal biscuit cutter, cut out rounds.  Top each with a sprig of thyme.
 If you prefer not to cut rounds, then just bake the potatoes in the casserole dish of your choice.

*You will not need the liquid for this recipe, but you will need it for the delicious and simple recipe I’ll be sharing for pork chops tomorrow.  But whether you decide to make the pork chops or not, never discard the wonderful liquid that is obtained through the hydration of dried mushrooms.  Put it in the fridge for 1-2 days if you don’t have an immediate need, or label it and freeze it.  It is a wonderful vegetarian substitute for beef stock, enhances soups and stews, and does wonderful things to gravies.


Mary said...

Oh My...your speaking my language~ potatoes, with mushrooms no less! I could do some damage and happily fork my way through this pan over the course of a weekend :)

Tracy Wood said...

Does anything get better than potatoes, mushrooms and gruyere? Heavenly...and a clever presentation too!

Tracy Wood said...

What a perfect addition to the Meatless Monday Link-Up! Thanks! I see that I previously posted a comment here..... :)

My Little Home and Garden said...

If this tastes half as wonderful as it looks, it must be incredible!