Quick: before summer is officially here, make this gratin. You—and I—won’t want these thick, buttery, cheesy carbohydrates mid-summer when we are concerned about our midriffs. But the caveat is: this gratin satiates and fills you with even a small portion (I am all in favor of trimming portion sizes so I can still enjoy favorite dishes!). I make this gratin for big holiday meals, when I am asked to ‘bring potatoes’ or ‘bring a side dish.’ It always pleases, and I especially love the inclusion of one of my favorite vegetables: fennel.
This is a recipe [adapted] from Barefoot Contessa, one of my regular kitchen companions. The last time I made these, I used a cylinder cookie/pastry cutter and a sprig of thyme to give these servings of gratin a gourmet look. It took me two seconds to cut them into circles—and the presentation was well worth it!
Potato Fennel Gratin
2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated GruyÃ¨re cheese (1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Butter the inside of 9 x 13; remove fennel stalks and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise, removing cores. Peel potatoes; slice fennel, onion and potatoes on mandoline/in cuisinart. Set potatoes aside. Saute fennel/onions for 15 minutes in olive oil and butter.
Mix potatoes in a bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of GruyÃ¨re, salt, pepper. Add sauteed fennel and onion and mix well. Pour into the baking dish; press down to smooth top. Combine 2 T of cream and 1/2 cup GruyÃ¨re and sprinkle on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350; the top will be browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.