Potato Gratin: It’s what’s for breakfast

December 24, 2012


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)

serves 8

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.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Annette December 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

Moms fighting over a ham? Horrifying!
Potato gratin? Fabulous!


Paula December 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

Nice to know I’m not the only one who stashes goodies deep in the bellows of the fridge. I’ve been know to scold my husband for serving himself seconds, leaving me with no leftovers to hide.


Abby December 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

No one should punch over pork, and I’m not just saying that as a vegan ;) But I also love my grains. Try adding sliced almonds, mushrooms and pepper to your buttered (or vegan butter alternative) rice. Dee-licious.

Happy Merry Christmas Holiday cocktails to you and yours, my friend!


Jaimie December 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Oh my god this made me SO hungry. I’m in rural Illinois meeting my boyfriends family, and we’ve had frozen pizza twice in 12 hours.


TKW December 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Whaaa? That is seven kinds of wrong!


TKW'S DAD December 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm

TKW and her husband are incredibly generous, having Mom & Dad over weekly for lunch, games with the Grandchildren and a wonderful time. We so appreciate it, and her loving touch on lunch is always wonderful to behold. But this potato gratin!
It is absolutely the best I’ve ever had. It is truly to die for. Thank you, TKW, and Merry, merry Christmas!


TKW December 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

Love you, Daddy!


Phoo-d December 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I’ve made this recipe from Gourmet before and it is indeed spectacular. The best gratin ever. It’s pretty much worth owning a mandoline just to make this dish. So glad that you are celebrating the holidays with your Mom and Dad this year- something you might not have thought was in the cards a year ago. Have a wonderful week. Love you!


TKW December 26, 2012 at 11:36 am


I kept thinking that all day yesterday, how last year at this time, I wasn’t sure if this would be my last Christmas with Mama. Love you back!


Jack December 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Confession: I keep going back to the suggestion in the photo above the post. It works for me. ;)


TKW December 26, 2012 at 11:36 am


My husband apparently thought the same thing…


Arnebya December 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Jack, my husband and I don’t exchange gifts on Christmas (we buy for the kids and figure we do enough for each other throughout the year, or we’ll pick a random time of year to get gifts and have a private Non-Christmas I Bought You This.) He walked by and saw the picture on the screen and said you know that whole non-gift giving idea we made up sure is lame…

I agreed. Gifts were given after all.


TKW December 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Jack and Arnebya,

I was bitching at him the whole time. “My parents are arriving in 40 minutes, dammit! The appetizers aren’t even done, so speed up, Motha! This is taking forever!”

Luckily, he’s grateful for what he gets.


Dawn December 25, 2012 at 6:12 am

Excellent idea…this potato thingy! And we (Katie and I) wish you and your family a wonderful sweet warm and happy Christmas!


Alexandra December 25, 2012 at 8:36 am

You’re so funny.

That potato thingy up there looks mighty fine.

Happy holidays, peace love and joy to you in 2013!


elizabeth December 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I am fanatical about having leftovers, so I understand the lengths you go to in order to preserve your potatoes.

Suburban moms fighting over a ham…and here I thought that was just a plot from season four of Mad Men!


TKW December 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm


I wish you’d have been there with me. Mayhem!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes December 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Potatoe gratin, oh yes baby! Come to mama!


Dana December 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Oh how I do love a potato. They can certainly set the world right.

I’m happy to see you survived the 12 days of cocktails. :)


TKW December 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm


I barely survived the 12 days of cocktails. Hamster Drama in da house. More on that later, but crap!


Contemporary Troubadour December 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I HAVE to figure out how to make this with sweet potatoes since I’m allergic to the regular ones. Or maybe parsnips. Any other root vegetables you recommend to substitute?


TKW December 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm


I’d try parsnips. I might boil the slices for a minute or two, then shock them in cold water, pat them dry, and proceed with the recipe. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me December 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm

OK, I am a potato gratin hater. Seriously. I believe it is because of an awful taste of some in my childhood that were so terrible that I never got over it. Or was that scallopped potatoes? I can never remember and so I avoid them both. This, however, makes me think that the evil thing I tasted was scallopped and not gratin and so I must give these a try. Seriously…potatoes, cheese, butter…there is nothing hateful here.


TKW December 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm


Are you averse to too much cheese? You can scale the amount down even more if you are. Normally, a gratin has much less cheese than scalloped. As for me, I never met a potato I didn’t like. Alas.


ayala December 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

Dana, you crack me up :) Love the photo ;)


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