Thursday, February 18, 2010

spinach and au gratin potatoes

I leave tabs open on my browser until I get the chance to properly explore the site. If I decide that it is a project for me, I will leave it open indefinitely... sometimes weeks at a time. This particular link sat here on my screen about 4 weeks before I finally got the chance to make it!

I give you in this post, the keys to some of the most amazing and tasty au gratin potato/spinach combination. I originally had this recipe when Andrea made it with sweet potatoes, like the recipe actually says. We mutually decided that they were too much and that regular potatoes would work best... for our tastebuds that is ;)

Here is where I originally found the recipe, and then below is my only very slightly revised version...

The first step was acquiring enough spinach without spending an ever-loving fortune. Which is ended up doing, but heh, I figured it out for next time. Sam's Club has big (2 lb?) bags of spinach so I bought one of those to add to the 11 oz I already had in my fridge from Wegmans. The sam's stuff was way cheaper btw.

Here's the list of ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds spinach
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (i did not use fresh... and it was fine)
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced (i actually just used the jar stuff because I didn't realize I didn't have any cloves left. it worked well)
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Salt
Black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

I took the time to wash the spinach not realizing that washing 3 lbs of it was going to take me a few hours... ok, maybe only like a half hour. But seriously, drying that stuff out was near impossible. I suggest either A) doing it a day ahead of time or B) not washing it at all and realizing that with all the cooking and baking, nothing bad will be left. (I vote plan B next time)

spinach

To prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add spinach by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

To make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Take the time to do this right and you will end with an amazingly divine cream sauce.

spinach and au gratin potatos

To assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it. Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this. As for reheating, it works just fine :) Tastes amazing the first AND second time.

Thanks Smitten Kitchen for this awesome recipe!


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2 extraordinary comments:

G. February 18, 2010 at 11:29 AM  

Yum! Smitten Kitchen has some pretty delicious recipes. I would love to try this, only my husband is not a fan of cooked spinach in things and my daughter has an aversion to potatoes of any kind...even fries. So, I may just make a tiny one for my son and I. We have similar food tastes. :) Great pics, btw.

Molly @ Star Cottage February 20, 2010 at 11:56 PM  

Oh my goodness. I love au gratin potatoes! I've never thought to add spinach. YUMM!
We need to get together and do some cookin' all your photos are making me hungry!

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