Potato and Fennel Gratin

A few months ago, Simon (the boyfriend) and I made this delicious Potato and Fennel Gratin. We had been looking for an excuse to make it again but couldn't bring ourselves to make something that rich and creamy and deliciously layered just for the two of us (ok, I couldn't bring us to do it. Simon doesn't discriminate between vegetables whether they be leafy, green and fresh or baked in cheese and cream).Then my mum asked me to bring some sort of vegetable dish to dinner on Sunday, so we broke out the mandolin and got to work.

The nice thing about this casserole is that it has all the richness of scalloped potatoes but the fennel makes it a bit more interesting. Plus it offers an extra vegetable. The fennel fronds are a wonderful addition and I really like fennel but don't use it much.

The hard part about this recipe is judging the amount of liquid to use. I used half of what the recipe said and it was still too much. Once, I asked my grandma how she knows how much liquid to use for scalloped potatoes (I know you think your grandma makes the best scalloped potatoes in the world, but you're wrong, because mine does). She told me you had to tip the casserole to the side and keep adding liquid until the liquid becomes visible. When asked how far you tip the casserole or what happens if you are using a different sized casserole she said you just had to know. So this liquid-to-casserole ratio still remains a mystery. Use less than you think you need. Especially if your potatoes and your fennel seem moist (like mine did).

Potato and Fennel Gratin

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 4 large)
3 medium-size fresh fennel bulbs with fronds, trimmed, cored, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1/2 cup; set aside. Discard any remaining fennel fronds. 

Arrange half of fennel slices in single layer in prepared baking dish; sprinkle with 1/4 cup fennel fronds, salt and pepper. 

Top with half of sliced potatoes in single layer. 

Arrange half of leek mixture over. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. 

Sprinkle with half of grated Parmesan cheese. 

Repeat layering with remaining fennel slices, fennel fronds, potatoes, leek mixture and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle potato gratin generously with salt and pepper. 

Bring chicken stock and whipping cream to boil in medium saucepan. 

Pour mixture over potato gratin. 

Bake uncovered until vegetables are very tender, liquid is almost absorbed and top is deep golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  

(Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover gratin with aluminum foil and rewarm in 375°F oven about 20 minutes.)

1 comment:

Sheri Wetherell said...

Yum! This sounds and looks delicious! I was looking for a "comforting" recipe to use tonight and came across yours. Love the pic of your cute kitty too :) They make such good kitchen helpers (not!)

Cheers! Sheri