Sunday, December 27, 2009

Potato-Fennel Gratin

My mom's ward (the congregation I grew up in) is full of the most fabulous cooks. I had inklings of what people typically thought of Mormon cooking (think Garrison Keillor's descriptions of meals done by the Lutheran congregation at Lake Wobegon) when I heard disparaging remarks made about lime jello salads and funeral potatoes. But, I never tasted such cooking until I went away to college; the ladies I grew up around just didn't do things that way. As an adult, I always thought funeral potatoes were pretty tasty until I got this recipe that my mom's ward used in the last two Christmas parties they put on. This is my THE potato gratin/funeral potatoes dish.

Seriously, you'll never want funeral potatoes again...

Potato-Fennel Gratin
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 T good olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 C plus 2 T heavy cream
2 1/2 C grated Gruyere cheese (1/2 pound)
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter inside of a 10x5x2 (10 cup) baking dish. I just used a 9x13 pyrex.

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. SAute 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 Gruyere, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel and onion and mix well.

Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remiaining 2 T of cream and 1/2 c of Gruyere and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Check on this; I've had to cover the pan with foil with 15 minutes to a half hour to go to prevent the top from getting burned. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.


k said...

oooh, I must make this. I have never had fennel either. Are you shocked? :)

Kate said...

We were quite spoiled to grow up around so many great cooks. I never understood what people were talking about when they'd mention "mormon food." These sound yummy.