Monday, November 18, 2013

Potato and Fennel Gratin

Here's a neat new twist on an old favorite dish. Yes, of course, you can have your regular potatoes au gratin, and it would be delicious and rich and fabulous. But when you add fennel to the equation, suddenly it becomes new and different and elegant and impressive and perfect for a special occasion. Now, I must admit that I have limited experience when it comes to cooking with fennel, but I do love it, and I knew this would be a win as soon as I saw Ina Garten making it on her show. It's so good that I didn't even feel the need to tweak the recipe! If you know me, you KNOW that that's saying something! It's perfect as is! And it's really easy too! I think you should make it for your next holiday or special occasion dinner. Love it!

2 fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups half and half
2 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Butter the inside of a 9x13 baking dish.

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. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with the half and half, cheese, 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. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, uncovered, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.

At first I thought it would be good to slice the potatoes and fennel on a mandolin slicer, just to make really thin slices, but I quickly decided that I wanted the slices to be just a bit thicker. So I bagged the mandolin idea and just used a nice big sharp knife. I think the thicker slices provide better texture throughout the dish! Just sayin.

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