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Daniel Boulud's Potato Gratin Forestier



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La Belle Cuisine


Potato Gratin Forestier

Food and Wine Presents
Best of the Best: theBest
Recipes From the Year's
25 Best Cookbooks, Vol. 3 icon
Editor in Chief Judith Hill, 2000,
American Express Publishing Corp.



Daniel Boulud's
Cafe Boulud Cookbook:
French-American Recipes
for the Home Cook

By Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan,
1999, Scribner

Editor’s Choice Award – Best Recipe of the Year

Makes 4 main-course or 5 to 8 side-dish servings

“As a son of the Dauphiné, the French region famous for its potato gratins, it
would be unthinkable for me not to have at least one of these soul-soothing
casseroles in my repertoire. Actually, I have several potato gratins in my files,
but the potato-mushroom gratin – forestier always means there are mushrooms
in the dish – is a favorite and one I’ve made for many years. Early in my career,
I was the chef at the Baron of Beef, the famed restaurant of the Hotel Plaza in Copenhagen. The restaurant was named for its specialty, a combination of two
top rounds of beef carved tableside, and I always served the dish with a potato
gratin, most often one like this in which the potatoes are layered with wild mushrooms, drenched with heavy cream, and baked until they are soft, custardy,
and saturated with the cream. Topped with a dusting of Parmesan that browns
as the potatoes bake, this gratin would sit easily next to chicken or beef, or
take center plate with a well-dressed salad on the side.”

1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, trimmed,
cleaned, and separated by variety
2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed,
and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
3 cups heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 pounds Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Working in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, sauté each variety of mushroom in just enough butter to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook, stirring,
just until they are tender but not colored, a few minutes for each batch.
When one type of mushroom is cooked, drain, turn it into a bowl, and
repeat with the next type. You need to sauté the mushrooms separately because each type has a different cooking time, but, once cooked, all the mushrooms should be mixed together in the bowl, along with the garlic
and thyme. Set aside at room temperature until needed. (The mushrooms
can be sautéed up to 2 hours ahead and kept covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.)
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of an ovenproof 10-inch sauté pan or skillet.
3. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk in salt and pepper and
freshly grated nutmeg to taste. (Add more salt than you might normally,
because the potatoes will need it.) One at a time, peel the potatoes and
slice them into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. The best way to get rounds this thin
is to use a mandoline. Lacking that, use the thinnest slicing blade on the
food processor or a sharp knife. Toss the potatoes into the cream as you
slice them.
4.  Using you hands, pull enough potato slices out of the cream to make a single layer on the bottom of the buttered pan, arranging them in even,
slightly overlapping concentric circles. Make a second layer of potato
slices and then pour some cream over the layers. Press down on the
potatoes to compact the layers – when you do this, some of the cream
should rise up between the slices. Spread the mushrooms (minus what-
ever liquid they may have accumulated in the bowl) over the potatoes
and pour in more cream, again using your hands to press down on the ingredients and bring the cream to the top. Arrange the remaining pota-
toes in attractive layers over the mushrooms, pouring in cream and
pressing down as you finish each layer. You may not need all of the
cream – you’ll know you’ve added enough when, without pressing
down, you see cream at the edges of the pan. Dust the gratin evenly
with the Parmesan cheese and place the pan on a foil-lined baking
sheet that can act as a drip-catcher…
5. Bake the gratin for 45 minutes, then check that it’s not getting too
brown. If necessary, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F
to keep the gratin from coloring too much. Bake for 15 minutes more,
or until you can easily pass a slender sharp knife through all the layers.
6. Remove the gratin from the oven and let it stand in a warm place
for about 20 minutes, time enough for the potatoes to soak up more
cream. If it’s more convenient, you can keep the gratin warm in a
200-degree F. oven.

To serve:  Bring the gratin to the table and cut it into wedges.

To drink:  A light, earthy Givry from the Côte Chalonnaise

Featured Archive Recipes:
JR's Gratin Dauphinois
Potato Gratin with Mustard and
Cheddar Cheese

Potato, Leek, Gruyere and
Oyster Mushroom Gratin

Potatoes, Onions and Mushrooms
au Gratin (Gigi's)

Potato and Mushroom Galette
"Ultimate" Potato Gratin (Tyler Florence)
"Upper Crust" Potato Gratin
(from 'Simply French')

White Cheddar and Red-Skinned
Potato Gratin

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