Monday, August 17, 2009

Mr. Potato Head's Truffled Potato Gratin

I am Mr. Potato head. No, not because of my rather large cranium (hey, it has to be big to fit my huge brain), but because my thoughts are so often centered on potatoes.

Some people daydream about winning the lottery, or being hired as Scarlett Johansson's personal masseuse; I sit and dream about new potato side dishes like this one.

This amazing truffled potato gratin recipe was the star of my recent dry-aged steaks dinner, and was probably the best potato side dish I've had all year.

I love potatoes so much that when I'm looking at a menu in a restaurant, I will actually order my entrée based on what the potato is. I don't care what the main course is, if I see this potato gratin as the accompaniment, that's what I'm getting.

If you've never had truffles before, and are wondering what all the fuss is about, then this is the recipe to try for experiencing the real magic of these fabulous fungi. The great thing about this recipe is you don't need a fortune worth of fresh truffles to make it, thanks to an Italian cheese called sottocenere.

Sottocenere is a semi-soft, fairly mild cheese that's studded with fragrant truffles. When baked into a potato gratin like we've done here, you get the full punch of truffle flavor and aroma, but at a fraction of the cost.

Before you start whining about not being able to find it, check out your nearest big city's best cheese shop -- they can get it. If a store imports Italian cheeses they will have access to this miracle of mycological cheese making.

Speaking of mushrooms, I used a mix of brown and lobster mushrooms, which worked very nicely, but this recipe will be spectacular with any mushroom.

If you can find some wild mushrooms like morel, chanterelle, porcini, or lobster, use them -- but if you can't, use regular supermarket mushrooms and you will still be rewarded with a very memorable potato side dish. Enjoy!




Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
5 medium russet potatoes, sliced thin
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
6 oz sottocenere cheese, grated
2 cups cream
1 cup chicken broth

56 comments:

tut said...

:) finely.WU HA :) been really waiting for this one,Thx Chef John :)

Food Junkie said...

Sounds great Chef John. Now if I can only find the sottocenere cheese. If my favourite cheese seller at the market can't help me I may be snookered. My town is NOT a hot bed of gourmands. The local palette is very bland for the most part.

Looking forward to hearing more about that BBQ sauce. I hope your store front will ship to Canada.

tmaynard said...

Can I make this dish with non-fat milk, cheddar cheese, and instant powdered potatoes?

KIDDING!

Thanks for the tip on sottocenere cheese! I've never tasted a truffle, and this looks like a great way to put my toe in the water.

My fingers are X'd that Whole Foods will have (or get) some for me to try this recipe.

Anonymous said...

I have never tasted truffles...aside from the chocolate ones :>. Chef John--can you please explain What the heck is the big deal about these? What do they taste like that makes them so craved? I've had wagyu beef, many expensive cheeses and caviar, lobster and high dollar chocolate--but never a truffle. Fresh or dried--white or black---how should they taste--can you educate us about these most craved fungi please?

iliea said...

i am proud to say i cut the cheese that is used in this recipe! that is my handwriting on the wrapper! i am so glad to see this cheese used to season such a recipe! chef john, i hope you come back to the shop soon so i can cut more cheese for you!!!

Chef John said...

Thanks! I was hoping you would comment! I will be back to your cheese shop for sure. Did Peggy and Sue see the clip?

Basia said...

If it means the difference between trying this awesome recipe or not, may I suggest that those who are afraid of using real cream try substituting fat-free half and half for SOME of the cream? I really like the FFH&H in some recipes. It works better than you'd think!

tut said...

Thats funny about the half an half Basia because i was going to ask Chef John if it would be ok to double the cheese an add some butter an maybe bacon on top :)

Amy Lynn said...

If you don't have mushroom-eaters at home, is there something you could replace it with?

Oh, and I made the caramel apple pie over the weekend - to DIE for! Thanks, Chef!

Chef John said...

just leave them out, or put them in anyway and tell them if they don't try it you will never cook again.

milkshake said...

I am a big fan of boletes (porcini are the the best kind of bolete mushroom) but unfortunately they are symbiotic and cannot be farmed, so you have to pick them in the woods.

One thing about mushrooms is that like fish they don't store well and what you get in supermarkets is most often several day past their freshness. Maybe the reason for people hating mushrooms is that they have had a bad experience too often with the old stuff.

foofifofum said...

What tut said in response to the comment by Basia...
FUNNY!

Tut, don't be surprised when CJ tells you, "I'll do the jokes!"

Chef John said...

Hey foofi, I'll do the jokes about doing the jokes!

milkshake said...

when the revolution happens, the nutrition experts will be the first ones lined up against the wall:

http://www.csicop.org/si/2009-03/spector.html

Chris K. said...

Gratin is one of my favorite things in the world, next to duck fat. May I saute the mushrooms in duck fat? May I?

Please, PLEASE post a video of Iliea cutting the cheese?

Jesse said...

When do you use Santu and when do you use Chef's?

Nachos Rule Forever said...

CJ, I want to make this for a vegetarian friend. Substitute for vegetable stock or just water or no extra liquid at all or what? Thanks!

Chef John said...

veg stock would work fine

Bill W. NH said...

Milkshake, thanks for the link, good study

Anonymous said...

I will try this with Gruyer cheese and truffle oil (since I already have a little bottle). Woo hoo!

dhan16 said...

Is there anything that I can use to substitute the Sottocenere cheese? Will any kind of soft cheese do?

Chef John said...

any melting cheese works fine

Basia said...

Hey tut - you related to Paula Deen by any chance?

Constantin said...

Hi John.
How can I prepare Heavy cream myself ?
I can't find such in my near store.

thanks

Chef John said...

sorry, but you can't make heavy cream. You can use the white sauce recipe on the blog http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2007/04/bchamel-sauce-lets-turn-this-mother-out.html

Anonymous said...

It may be helpful to Constantin (particularly if he or she is in the south) to know that heavy cream is also commonly packaged as "whipping cream."

feelinin214 said...

As a side note I baked this in a clear 9x13 baking dish and it needed to bake an additional 30 min. Just an FYI.

Beste said...

Hello Chef John,

You've been a great help to me with your although awesome still doable recipes. I've actually started feeling like good cook, thanks to you.

Problem is, where I live, they don't sell any type of liquid broth. There's only bullion cubes, as you may know them in the US. So how do I incoparete those solid tablets into this recipe, or for that matter, any other recipe that includes some type of broth. I'd really appreciate if you could help me with this.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John, I'm looking for an easy way to do Pommes Anna. What about doing a video of that sometime?? Thanks

Clara said...

I made this tonight for some guests and it turned out AWESOME! I couldn't get exactly sottocenere but got a truffled marscapone from the deli instead, and it worked marvellously! Also, the texture of the whole thing was so much better than any other potato gratin recipe I'd followed previously. Will definitely be making this again! =)

Maria said...

Hello Chef!
This recipe was the best i ever cooked! It made my friends ask me to open a restaurant! hahaha, right, so by now i have one recipe in my menu: yours!
Thanks a lot! all the free time i have i spend in your blog! great work you do here!!!

Anonymous said...

If you can't find that cheese that you made this dish with could you please give us the name of a few otehrs thta would work and be just as good

HypnoticMolecule said...

Thanks, Chef John. I've made these potatoes a couple of times now and my friends can't stop talking about it. Some of them want to marry me...even the males. That said, I just wanted to point out that with the cooking times specified, the top layer of potatoes was really undercooked. So, I would keep them covered for a little longer, an hour maybe. All stoves are different, I guess. Also, I cheated using sharp cheddar and truffle-infused oil instead of sottocenere, didn't have time to go looking for it, but I promise I will. Truffle oil smells amazing too, actually, just a few drops do the trick. Good luck to all of you who haven't tried this recipe yet. I envy you.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, the pronunciation is sottocEnere with the accent on the first "e"..sot-to-chay'- nereh. It means "under ash".

dcivera said...

Does anyone know how to get Sottocenere in Toronto, Ontario. I called all the major cheese shop and I just can't find ANY! Unbelievable that they haven't heard of this cheese. It's actually quite famous

dcivera said...

Chef John,

I settled for Boschetto al Tartufo, which is very similar to Sottocenere except for the fact that it's sheep's milk not cow. Any recommandation?

My humble guess is that the Boschetto will be a bit stronger/tangier and to mellow it a bit, I was planning on mixing a little bit of swiss cheese. Is this a bad idea?

Thank you so much for your work chef. You sparked an interest in me to know more about cheese than what I see at the supermarket. I travelled 3 h by bus to get that and the place, the foods, the people I discovered make it all worthwhile.

Chef John said...

yes, some grureye maybe, or mild cheddar for something creamier.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John. I was wondering for how long did you soaked the potatoes in this video?

Chef John said...

Just a minute. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

would mozzarella cheese work okay as a substitute?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John. I made this one tonight but I only had mozzarella cheese. It turned out pretty good but the potatoes were still a bit crunchy (used a mandolin on the thinest cut.)

I think next time I would let it cook for 1 hour instead of 45 minutes and then let it cook uncovered for another 20 minutes. Might just be a simple difference in how our ovens keep their temperatures.

(oddly enough, I had it slightly above 350 and they still turned out crunchy... I prefer the potatoes to be soft in a gratain.)

Chef John said...

yes! all cooking times are an estimate...cook until tender and soft! enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,
How many servings is this dish for? Thanks. I'm so looking forward to make this dish!! = )

Lorenz said...

yeah, the past couple of times I did this it turned out too soupy and the potatoes weren't cooked all the way so I think I'm going to substitute the cream for a bechamel and turn it up to 375 for better results. No chance with the cheese, I'll probably have to order it on the intraweb :)

Anonymous said...

HAi shef jon/ can i yuse skimmed milk in thes recipee?

i prfer mi pizzia cold

Steven K. said...

OK, don't knock me for doing this, but I simply had to put this recipe into my dieting app and see what type of nutritional info it gave me. So, here goes:

3,407 calories
265.2g of fat
151.6g of saturated fat
868.7mg of cholesterol
197.7g of carbohydrates
76.5g of protein

That's for the whole thing. I'd guess there are about 8 portions, so you can do the math for each portion yourself if you want. I know sometimes you can just say "What the heck?" and make a dish even though you know it's unhealthy. This particular dish crossed the line for me. It just has such an incredibly high amount of saturated fat.

phillip said...

If you eat this everyday then yea its not going to be healthy. But just having this dish a couple times a year is not going to hurt. You might as well forget about looking at a menu and just ask for a list of their nutritional info instead.

Nepenthe said...

Chef John, I don't like potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, or heavy cream. What can I substitute? Ha, ha, just kidding! This looks amazing and I'm off to find the cheese!

Anonymous said...

Lactose Free Version:

Substitute Moliterno cheese (Spanish sheep milk cheese with black truffles)for the Sottocenere.

Replace cream with goat or sheep milk cream. If not available blend chevre with your preferred milk substitute.

om nom nom nom

Anonymous said...

HI Chef John,
Could I put this casserole together the night before, and bake it the next day?
Thanks!
hungryinbrooklyn

Chef John said...

No, you have to do fresh. The potatoes can get weird.

Allison Chihak said...

Could I substitute root vegetables for some of the potatoes? I'm trying to make a slightly lower carb potato option for my mom this Thanksgiving.

Kelly D said...

Chef John I made this for my ladies social gathering and it was a hit. I left a comment on youtube and I'm leaving one here. It was SO EASY. It was so good. The comment I got over and over was "Yummy for my Tummy" and "KD you'll have to make those potatoes again at our next gthering"
I'm tackling your lasagna tonight!

MissKsenia said...

I made this yesterday and I don't know what I did wrong but it wasn't a hit at all :(

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Chef John,
If my source is correct, wheels of sottocenere cheese are coated with wood ash before being aged. Should I assume that this coating is removed before shredding as you describe? Thanks.

Chef John said...

mine didn't have any, but you can remove if you want. Don't think it matters as the ash used on cheese is edible.