How to Make Potatoes Au Gratin

Potatoes au gratin, a decadent side dish, consists of sliced potatoes that are baked in the oven with a thick white sauce. This dish is great when served with a fresh salad, French bread and a substantive main course.

The best potatoes au gratin recipes have minimal spices so that the flavors of cheese and butter come through. The building blocks for a good potatoes au gratin include potatoes, flour, butter, milk and white cheddar cheese. These ingredients, along with salt and pepper, are sufficient to make the potatoes so delectable, you'll crave a lot more than what was in the baking dish.

While some recipes use cream for potatoes au gratin, it is preferable to use reduced-fat milk because it has more liquid and creates a better texture. Do not use standard butter or margarine. It is well worth the effort and money to purchase a high-end imported butter, as it will improve the taste and creaminess.

Potatoes au Gratin Recipe
Ingredients You Will Need:
4 tablespoons good quality butter, plus more for coating pan
1 tablespoon dark, extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion or 2 shallots
2 pounds of white or red waxy new potatoes, sliced thinly with the skins left on
2 teaspoons white flour
1 ½ cups 2 percent milk
Sea salt to taste
Finely crushed black pepper to taste
Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
1 cup of white cheddar cheese, a mix of aged and mild
Cooking spray (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add chopped shallots or onions to the butter, and begin sauteing until they are clear, usually after a few minutes. Add half the flour, milk, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Stir constantly over medium heat, making sure the flour does not clump and that it is beginning to brown. Slowly add the cheese and remaining flour to thicken the mixture. After the cheese has melted, let the sauce cool until fairly thick.

Butter a large baking dish. Use a mandolin slicer or food processor to slice the potatoes evenly, and spread the potatoes out in the baking dish. Spray the potatoes with olive oil if desired. Spread the sauce over the potatoes, filling any gaps. The potatoes in the pan should be entirely covered in the white sauce.

Place the pan in the oven for approximately one hour, until the potatoes turn out crispy and golden brown. You can alter the baking time based on your texture preferences. Serve partially cooled.

Variations
Garlic Potatoes au Gratin: Same recipe as above, but add roasted garlic to the white sauce before you pour it over the potatoes. You can roast an entire garlic bulb in the oven and use the cloves, or you can pan roast fresh garlic in olive oil. The garlic will add some pungency to the potatoes.

Potatoes au Gratin with Breadcrumbs: Remove the dish after 30 minutes. Spread breadcrumbs evenly on top of the potato mixture. Then place the pan back in the oven for the remaining time. This variety will have a very different texture and a crunchy top. Make sure the breadcrumbs do not burn.

Reduced-Fat Potatoes au Gratin: Cut the butter quantity in half, and replace with equivalent amount of canola oil. The result will be less fatty and perhaps crispier. You can also reduce the portion size to get less total fat.

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