When Eataly’s Joe Bastianich asked me to do a cooking demo for 50 people, I couldn’t refuse. It was such an honor, not to mention an exciting opportunity. I knew I wanted to create a holiday menu with flavors that really popped and melded into place. The holidays are, after all, a time when you’re cooking to really wow people. One of the things I love to do is take a classic dish and give it an updated twist. My Gorgonzola Potatoes Au Gratin are a riff on a scalloped potato recipe my grandma used to make every holiday. The secret to its greatness is the Gorgonzola Dolce, a beautiful Italian version of blue cheese, which is just a little bit milder and a little bit creamier. This cheese really makes the dish special and takes it to the next level.
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 pounds yams, peeled
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons thyme leaves (removed from stems)
2 cups half & half
1/2 pound Gorgonzola Dolce, crumbled (freeze for up to 1/2 hour to harden and ease crumbling)
Grated Parmesan Reggiano
Fresh thyme sprigs
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Dice shallots and garlic, and set aside. Prepare a 4-quart casserole dish by buttering the bottom and sides.
- Using a mandolin or the side of a box grater, slice potatoes and yams into 1/8-inch slices and leave submerged in cold water with a little lemon juice or vinegar to prevent browning.
- In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for a few minutes. Add garlic and thyme leaves and continue to sauté 1-2 minutes longer. Add flour and stir constantly; the mixture should be bubbly. Continue to stir and ‘cook’ the flour for two minutes.
- Stirring often, pour in half & half and add salt and pepper. As it heats up, the mixture will thicken. When just about to boil, turn off the heat.
- Remove potatoes from water and place into half & half mixture. Using two wooden spoons, ‘toss’ the potatoes in the mixture, being sure to coat as much of the potatoes you can. The sauce will cool down when you add the potatoes and become slightly less thick.
- By hand, transfer the potato slices into prepared casserole, being sure to ‘tile’ the potatoes and yams—I like the appearance and taste of alternating.
- Once all the potatoes have been transferred, pour the remaining half & half mixture over the top. Arrange everything so you have a relatively even surface and the half & half mixture is well-distributed. Liberally and evenly sprinkle crumbled Gorgonzola—I recommend placing a softer wedge into the freezer for 30 minutes to harden it up so it’s easier to crumble.
- Bake in a 450°F oven for 45 minutes. (Cover with foil halfway through if browning too quickly.) Remove dish from oven and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle the potatoes with parmesan and broil for five to eight minutes or until it gets that divine crust.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Top with some aromatic sprigs of fresh thyme and cracked peppercorn. Serve with a tenderloin, or a winter salad. Delicious!
Total Cooking Time: 1hr 15min
Insider Tip: The brilliance of this dish is that it’s even better if you make it the day before! That means more time for sharing cocktails with your friends and enjoying a stress-free dinner.
To make the day before: Prepare as usual. Bake in a 450°F oven, but only for 30 minutes. Cool. Cover with foil and refrigerate. To serve: Bring dish to room temperature. Bake in 450°F oven for 20 minutes, remove dish, turn on broiler, sprinkle parmesan over the potatoes, and return dish to oven and broil for five to eight minutes or until it gets that divine crust. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Top with some aromatic sprigs of fresh thyme.
For the complete Eataly Decadent Supper menu, head over to AliLarter.com now.