What could be better than a crispy, crusty potato gratin? When cooked in a single large casserole that crispy goodness is limited to the edges. But when cooked in small gratin dishes it is everywhere. I improvised by using my small tartlet pans because that was all I had. I had to wrap the bottom and outside with foil so that the butter and cream wouldn’t seep out.
I bought a big wedge of Gruyere cheese while at Costco last week. It is one of my favorite cheeses for potato dishes and quiches. It was wonderful on this gratin. I adapted the recipe from one in a Patricia Wells cookbook. She says the recipe was named for the Jabron river in the Drome region of France. It is served at the Relais and Chateaux designated hotel and restaurant La Bonne Etape.
The charming restaurant has earned one Michelin star and, although it is elegant, it is known for its classic bistro-style cooking. I love the beamed ceiling and antique furniture. The grounds include an organic garden, swimming pool and lovely outdoor seating. It has been run by the Gleize family for generations. It would be a great vacation destination someday. It won’t be this year, although we are going back to France. Our summer trip this year will be a motorcycle tour led by our intrepid French friends Laurent and Carole. They have traveled the world on their bike. Laurent wants to start a motorcycle tour business and we and our riding buddies from our Alaska trip will be his first customers. He is taking us from the Loire Valley up to Normandy and Omaha Beach, then down into Dordorgne, Perigord and into Provence. It will be a two week ride. David and I will then spend three days in Paris before flying home. I can hardly wait to go back.
In the meantime I will enjoy this little taste of France.
INDIVIDUAL POTATO GRATINS (GRATIN DU JABRON)- Adapted from Patricia Wells
4 medium to large russet potatoes, peeled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
Place the potatoes in a single layer in a saucepan. Cover with water, add salt to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until nealy cooked through but still firm in the center, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut into thin slices (This step can be done several hours in advance.)
Preheat the broiler.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and garlic and saute, shaking the pan from time to time, until nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
With a spoon, transfer the potatoes to 4 individual 6-inch round gratin dishes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese, dot with the cream. Broil until brown and bubble, about 2 minutes. 4 servings.