My husband's Scalloped Potatoes are one of his signature dishes, but when he decided to shake things up a bit with a new recipe he discovered by Ina Garten, he may have redefined the way we'll approach this comfort food classic in the future. Thinly sliced fennel bulbs are sautéed with finely sliced onion until tender and translucent. Mixed together with sliced potatoes, heavy cream, grated Gruyère and seasoned with salt and pepper, the gratin is finished with another cup of cheese and baked for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until golden brown and bubbling nicely on the sides. The intoxicating scent of the rich and cheesy gratin as it bakes in the oven is only matched by the fragrant and delicious gratin that is now my husband's favourite new recipe.
Potato, Fennel & Gruyère Gratin
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lb russet potatoes, about 4 large potatoes
2 cups plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, about 1/2 pound
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the inside of a 10 x 15 x 4-inch baking dish. Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. Sauté the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.
Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyère, salt, and pepper. Add the sautéed fennel and onion and mix well.
Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.