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!
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