There are few things I love more than potatoes. I think that's the Albertan in me. I have a special fondness in my little heart for those bad boys.
It's been a long time since I've lived in Calgary, Alberta. In that time I've developed a raging affinity for other foods: pasta, polenta, homemade tomato sauce, chicken liver pate, cheese, wine. In fact, I often think my food-soul is Italian.
And I have mostly managed to shake a lot of the Albertanisms that make me think of it as "little Texas" - big money, greed, Budweiser, big oil guzzling trucks, saying "get 'er done". Not that there is anything wrong with Alberta or Texas in and of themselves - I'm just a little more West coast than that. Or as the people I work with often refer to me, a little more social-communist. And I'm okay with that. I like shopping vintage thrift and up-cycling material goods. Smart cars are an excellent way to get around the city. And sauntering from one place to another, taking time to smell the flowers and breathe the air and watch the birds and lay on the beach all while being protected by universal medicine is A-okay with me.
But try as I might - potatoes linger both in my mind and judging by the popularity of the Paleo diet, my hips too, apparently. Smother 'em in cheesy, creamy goodness and I've got the best of all worlds.
So while Italian may be my food-soul, potatoes are my soul-food. They remind me that I stem from a meat and potatoes kinda place. Filled with big trucks, oil money and bad beer. So I hold them dear and close to my heart. That and country music.
(printable recipe) - serves 4.
Approx 3 Lb (6 medium sized) Yukon gold Potatoes, sliced very thinly (use a mandolin on thinnest setting).
1 Onion, peeled & sliced very thinly in the same way as the potatoes.
2 Garlic Cloves, minced.
1 or 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme.
1 Bay Leaf.
2 1/2 C 2% Milk or Cream.
2 Tbsp Butter.
2 Tbsp Flour.
Pinch of Nutmeg.
1 1/2 C Gruyere Cheese, grated.
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, grated.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
What to Do:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F & lightly grease a 9 X 9" baking dish.
Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and melt until sizzling - add the flour and stir constantly until fragrant and just starting to change color. Remove from the heat and add the milk, stirring to ensure it doesn't curdle. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, nutmeg and a generous helping of salt and pepper. Place back on heat and stir stir stir until the milk thickens. Remove from the heat and discard what's left of the thyme stem.
Ladle a little of the liquid into the prepared baking dish, followed by closely layered slices of potatoes so they overlap. Top with some of the grated Gruyere and another ladle full of the milk mixture. Repeat until the dish is full with 1/2" of headroom - you should end up with 3 - 4 layers of potatoes, finishing with the Parmesan cheese.
Cover with tin foil and place in the oven to bake for 50 - 60 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and golden.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting into.
What's your background? What foods or lifestyle choices do you hold close to your heart? What makes you who you are? What do you hang on to? What do you let go of? Are there any other country fans in the house?