Happy holiday season, Dear Readers!
Have you re-gifted that fruitcake that Aunt Betty sent yet? Has the cat nibbled the poinsettia and thrown up on the rug? Have you burned that first batch of Christmas cookies? Ah, the warm and fuzzy times.
Which is why I refer to the holiday season as “The Twelve Days of Cocktails.” You just have to weather through and embrace the madness.
At least this year I got smart and ordered a Honeybaked ham online so it would be plopped on my doorstep. I’m still traumatized from last year, when I watched two suburban moms wrestle in the aisle of the Kroger for the last Honeybaked ham. I am serious! Who throws a punch over a ham?
Suburban moms, that’s who. They’ve done so much decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping and Elf on a Shelf-ing that it’s rendered them senseless. I’d rather be stuck in a closet with a rabid dog than at the grocery store with suburban moms 2 days before Christmas. It’s ugly.
It’s such a freakshow whirlwind that I have resorted to gruesome levels of carbohydrate consumption. I fear my ass will never recover.
I am the Carbohydrate Queen, and when things get desperate, I am not picky. Buttered rice? Come on down. Mashed potatoes? Uh-huh. French baguette? Indeed.
Mama and Daddy came for Sunday lunch and I made this potato gratin. It’s kind of a bastardization of several gratin recipes, because I couldn’t settle on one. But this girl needed potato therapy, and there was NO way I was braving the Kroger to buy the boxed kind this time of year.
So I made it from scratch (because this girl had lots of “emergency potatoes” on hand). Sure, it took a little time, but it was worth it. This gratin was the star of the lunch–so much so that I was a little concerned that the whole dang thing was going to be scarfed, depriving me of my favorite breakfast: leftovers.
Thank goodness I’d padded the meal with Mama’s homemade rolls. I stealthily scooped up the scant 2/3 cup of leftover potatoes and tucked it deep in the bellows of the refrigerator, lest someone else pilfer my stash.
Potato Gratin (Gratin Dauphinois)
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
2 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced tarragon
3/4 cup grated cheese (I used half gruyere and half sharp cheddar)
Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven. Preheat oven to 400.
Generously butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.
Peel potatoes and slice crosswise very thinly (1/16-inch slices) with a mandoline or slicer.
Transfer potatoes to a 4-quart saucepan. Add half-and-half, garlic, chopped bell pepper, salt, pepper and tarragon and bring just to a boil over medium flame.
Transfer mixture into the buttered gratin dish and spread evenly. Top with the cheese. Bake until the crust is golden and bubbly and the potatoes are cooked through, about 35-45 minutes. Let gratin stand 15 minutes before serving.
Wishing you all a merry holiday and sending you my love. And cocktails.