TasteFood by Lynda Balslev

Individual Gratins Are Easy To Make and Elegant To Serve

Yes, that's potato gratins in the plural, not singular. Sure, you can make one big gratin, but these little gratins are very cute in their individual ramekins, and they are also elegantly and cleverly portioned. This ensures that you will be less likely to find yourself gobbling up half a baking dish of gratineed potatoes or wrestling your child for the last crunchy cheesy corner stuck to the baking dish. Just saying -- it's been known to happen.

There’s nothing more appealing and comforting than a bubbling casserole of cheesy potatoes in the winter. The ingredients are few and simple. Sour cream lends a bright tang to the cheesy richness of the gratin. Yukon gold potatoes are buttery, creamy and versatile, and hold their shape once cooked, so the gratin won’t turn to mush.

And then there’s the cheese: An authentic Gruyere cheese is the best choice for this cold-weather dish. Gruyere hails from the Swiss Alps, and if any food culture can do wintery food and cheese well, it’s the Swiss. Their alpine cheese is nutty, sweet and piquant, a byproduct of their very happy cows nibbling on the flora in the mountain meadows. Choose an aged Gruyere if you can, because it will have a little more salt and earthiness in its flavor.

A key to making these gratins is to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible. A mandolin works best for this task, but you can also carefully cut the potatoes with a knife. Keep the skins on for extra nutrients -- just be sure to give the potatoes a good scrubbing before slicing. This recipe can also be prepared in a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Just remember to share.

Potato Gratins

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Makes 8 servings

Unsalted butter

16 ounces full-fat sour cream

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 pounds small to medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed, very thinly sliced, about 1/8-inch thick

8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 8 (3/4-cup) ramekins.

Whisk the sour cream, garlic, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl.

Arrange two layers of potatoes, slightly overlapping, in the ramekins. Spread a layer of sour cream over the potatoes to cover, and then top with a sprinkling of cheese. Repeat the layering process, occasionally sprinkling with a pinch of salt and pepper, until the ramekins are full, gently pressing down on each layer. Finish with a layer of sour cream and grated cheese.

Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, and the tops are brown and bubbling, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. (If the tops brown before the potatoes are fully cooked, lightly cover with foil to prevent burning.)

Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

CAPTIONS AND CREDITS