Caraway Scalloped Potatoes
My Recipes|Luke Chavez
September 30, 2021
The season for sweaters and comfort food has arrived, and I couldn't be happier. While autumn is my favorite season for many reasons, fall cooking is at the top of that list. Few vegetables are more comforting than the humble and versatile potato. Baked, mashed, roasted, or fried, I am always experimenting with ways to elevate the much-loved starchy tuber. One recipe that I have come back to time and time again, is Julia Child's Gratin Dauphinois. Thinly sliced potatoes scalloped with milk, cheese, and just a hint of garlic, make for an elegant side dish to accompany most roasted or grilled meats. Here, I present my twist on this classic, featuring sharp-aged cheddar and toasted caraway seeds for an unexpected added depth of flavor.
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 cups when sliced)
1 clove garlic, cut in half
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated aged white cheddar (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel potatoes and slice into ⅛-inch thick rounds. Place slices in a large bowl and cover with cold water.
Place caraway seeds in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Allow pan to heat and carefully watch as the seeds lightly toast. After 1 to 2 minutes of toasting the seeds should be aromatic. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Keep hot, but not boiling.
Prepare a shallow baking dish, about 10-inches in diameter and 2-inches deep, by rubbing the inside with the cut ends of garlic clove. Then smear 1 tablespoon of the butter evenly over the sides and bottom.
Drain the potatoes and lay over a clean towel to dry thoroughly. Spread half the potatoes over the bottom of the prepared dish. Season with half of the salt and plenty of black pepper. Next add half the remaining butter, cut into little cubes, and half of the grated cheese. Then pour in half of the hot milk. Repeat process with the remaining potatoes arranged over the first layer, then season with rest of the salt and more black pepper. Finish by covering with the rest of the butter, cubed, and the grated cheese, followed by the rest of the hot milk.
Set baking dish in the top third of preheated oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Potatoes are done when tender, all the liquid has been absorbed, and the top is beautifully browned. Use a sharp knife to check the potatoes for doneness. Cooking times will vary because of differences in ovens and the thickness of your baking dish.
The classic version of Gratin Dauphinois is simply spiced with salt and pepper, with no caraway, and uses gruyere or Swiss cheese. An alternate version, called Gratin Savoyard, can be made using stock in place of the milk, and increasing the butter from 4 to 6 tablespoons. Once mastered, you will find this recipe to be an easy weeknight side dish sure to please anyone.
Another decadent version, called Gratin Jurassien, uses heavy cream in place of the milk. Extra care must be made to prevent the cream from curdling. The oven temperature must be reduced to 300 degrees, and thus the baking time will be doubled. Make sure the cream never comes to a boil.
Serve this as a side dish to roasted poultry, lamb, or beef. I love serving this with pan-seared and sauced steaks, such as Steak Au Poivre.