As usual, Manon’s Thursday posts give us a reason to feel hungry and adventurous in the kitchen. This week, she explores one of her favorite comfort dishes (with a surprise twist at the end), with flavors just right for that post-midterm self-loathing.
When it gets around to being midterm season, I seem to have less and less time to do anything, and with the impending winter season slowly creeping upon us, I am increasingly in the mood for warm, comfort food. So here’s the perfect dish: gratin. Traditionally, these are made with alternating layers of sliced potatoes and cream, topped with freshly grated Gruyère, and then thrown into the oven until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is golden and crispy. By replacing the potatoes with other ingredients, many variants are possible, such as cooked pasta, leeks, zucchini, and more. In fact, this is a great dish to make if you have a bunch of leftovers that you don’t really know what do to with. Just throw anything in, pour in some cream, add a pinch of ground nutmeg if appropriate, and grate some cheese on top. It always turns out delicious.
Well, most of the time… I’m used to having my mom or grand-ma’s deliciously rich and creamy gratin, and when they make theirs it always looks so easy. You just throw everything in the dish and then in the oven, and voilà! A beautiful dinner. I soon figured out that it’s not that simple, but this turned out to be the result of some oven temperature confusion. Here’s the full story:
A friend and I had decided to make dinner since the people she nannies for were going to be out of the house that night. I was so excited about the fact that I’d be able to cook in a fully equipped kitchen where I wouldn’t have to worry about the fire alarm going off due to a malfunctioning fan, and then having my whole dorm building evacuate on my account. This was such a perfect opportunity to make something I knew would be delicious. So the menu for the night featured chicken with caramelized onions and a white wine-reduction cream sauce with a potato gratin on the side. The chicken was great. The gratin…