Potato and Mushroom Gratin – Real Quick (for a Gratin!)

The weather had turned autumn-ward several weeks ago.  And while I wish we’d have had our full share of summer, and not had it truncated at the end of July (I mean, where DID the August go, really?), I also can’t say I am unhappy about the excuse to get out pretty and warm clothes, drink hot drinks, and cook cold-weather comfort food.

Most comforting dishes such as my beloved cassoulet and various beef stews, are long-and-slow cooked creations that require thinking ahead and preparation.  Happily, this one is not one of those – the entire prep and initial cooking takes maybe 15 minutes, and then it is 40-45 minutes of doing nothing while the oven does its job.  An hour may not sound like it’s a very fast dish, but when you consider that most potato gratins take more like an hour and a half or two to achieve that perfect consistency, then an hour from start to finish with only a quarter-hour of active involvement really isn’t so much of an investment.  Especially – especially!!! – when the results are so creamily, comfort-heavenly good.

This generous portion will serve two for a generous dinner, or four as a decent side dish to steak or roast chicken.  The recipe is somewhat adapted from Nigella Express – quantities changed a little, and I chose to use heavy cream for part of the milk specified, black pepper instead of white, and a little more wine than was called for.  The results were just the right thing to take the edge off a tiring Monday night grown rapidly chill with sunset.

A word about the potatoes – the main star of this show:  I bought the pre-washed shiny golden ones that ambushed me in the entrance to the supermarket.  But really, any will do.  Don’t bother peeling, but if they are dirty, do give them a good scrubbing in addition to the non-optional rinse.

What you need:

  • 700g potatoes, rinsed and patted dry, sliced into 3-4mm thick slices
  • 150-200g mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2.5dl full-fat milk
  • 1dl heavy (36%+ fat) cream
  • 0.5dl white wine
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Garlic granules or powder (optional), to taste

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 220C.  Butter a large casserole dish thoroughly.
  • Put potatoes, milk, cream and wine into a pot.  Place on medium-high heat, bring to a boil and add salt and garlic granules if using (I did, and they worked wonderfully well).  Cover, turn heat down a little to avoid burning the milk, and let simmer while you prepare the mushrooms.
  • Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat.  Dump mushrooms into the pan and saute until they are giving off a tiny bit of liquid and are turning soft and a little translucent, maybe 5 minutes.
  • Pour the entirety of the mushroom pan into the pot with potatoes and stir carefully, avoiding breaking the potato slices.
  • Pour the contents of the pot into the buttered casserole dish, and pat gently with a spatula into a uniform layer.
  • Place casserole dish on a rack in the middle of the oven and set timer for 40 minutes.  Go take a bath, power nap, or finish that last bit of business for the day to get it off your mind.
  • When timer goes off, check the gratin.  If it is not quite golden enough on top for you, turn the broiler (top grill) on for a few minutes while you watch it (watch it, it will brown FAST!).
  • Take out of oven, and shovel into plates (warm the plates if you want to be really decadent).  Eat on sofa off your lap, or serve with half a glass of white wine for a luxury workday dinner.

P.S.  I’d like to note that the clean-up for this isn’t half bad – if the casserole dish was buttered well (mine was), all it takes to loosen the browned dairy bits off the sides is a bit of soaking in water, and a light brushing.  No heavy scrubbing required!

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6 thoughts on “Potato and Mushroom Gratin – Real Quick (for a Gratin!)

  1. Whilst I am a meticulous meal and menu planner both for the sake of my wallet and my sanity, I do so often find many meals that one throws together on a moment can often be the most surprising and delicious! I would absolutely love to do this but, because I have to treat my mushroom-phobic partner like a child, I will probably have to cook the mushrooms and blend them into the sauce. Thanks for this Veronika!

    1. Hey!

      Sorry I completely managed to miss this comment somehow – I blame life, as per usual! As to mushroom-phobic boyfriend, you could probably simply layer the mushrooms on one side of this, or mix them into half of the potato and milk prep and pour into two separate dishes to be baked side by side.

      Why does he fear them so? Do they chase him in his dreams? ;)

      1. Because ‘they’re mushy’…
        He doesn’t mind them in a sauce or a soup though so I’ve got this on the menu for next week but with the cooked mushrooms blended into the cream sauce. So it’ll basically be a potato gratin in mushroom cream. The shit I put up with.

      2. That would still taste great, and if you have some dried porcini around, you could make mushroom tea with a piece or two of those, and use that in the milk boil, and blend the reconstituted porcini with the rest of the mushrooms to amplify the flavor.

        And eh… Tobias can’t have any nuts except almonds and coconut, and no egg whites. The things I go through to make him cake… *sigh* We suffer for those we love! ;)

  2. I just made this dish, and although I had to adapt it to what I had (no cream so more milk, no butter so olive oil, no white wine so I used red) i turned out really yummy. but I still want to make the proper recipe though.

    1. Anita, do try it with the original ingredients – I believe white wine and butter would give it a much smoother finish; although your version – with olive oil and red wine – sounds like a really interesting Mediterranean take on this. I wonder if some dried thyme would go well with that?

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