Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Potato Fennel Gratin

What do you do on a rainy long weekend? You play bridge and cook wonderful things! I experimented this past Labour Day weekend with 2 new recipes. One was a dismal failure, which I won't talk about, except that it turned out hard as a brick; the other was a great success. I'll tell you about the success - Potato Fennel Gratin. I love Potato Dauphinoise. It's a standard family favourite. This past weekend though, I wanted to tweak the recipe a bit. Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet and is composed of a white or pale green bulb topped with tall stalks and feathery green fronds. All parts are edible. Fennel's taste is quite unique, and strikingly reminiscent of licorice or anise. However, once cooked, fennel looses much of it's aromatic punch, and compliments this potato fennel gratin very nicely.

Potato Fennel Gratin


1 fennel bulb, saving fronds for garnish
8 baking potatoes, peeled
2 cups gruyere, grated
4 cups half and half cream
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the bottom 1/2" off of the fennel bulb, saving the fronds for garnish. Wash the fennel bulb and then thinly slice using a mandoline, or slicing blade on a food processor. Set aside the fennel and then slice the potatoes in the same manner. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8"x15" casserole dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of overlapping potato slices, neatly as possible. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a handful of the fennel, 1 tablespoon of butter broken up into small pieces and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with one more layer of potatoes and top with the remaining cheese. Pour the cream on top. Tear the fronds into small pieces and sprinkle on top to garnish. Bake uncovered for 1 hour 20 minutes. The top should be nicely browned and crispy. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

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