These potatoes would be really lovely on your Holiday table. They are easy to make, tender, creamy and (most importantly to me!) bursting with flavor. I usually don't care for potato gratin, because its usually pretty bland. Its full of cream, which doesn't have a lot of flavor, poured over plain potatoes, which need some help in the flavor department. This is the wonderful aspect of potatoes, they can take on almost any flavor you put on them; however, when you put bland with bland, you can't be surprised when you get bland out of it!
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Once your garlic is in the cream (blended in or not), bring the cream up to barely a simmer over medium low heat, then toss in a large sprig of fresh thyme. Let it cool, move it to an air tight container, and place it in the fridge for at least overnight.
When you're ready to build your gratin, start off by sauteing your mushrooms. I always start my mushrooms off in a dry pan, with no oil or butter, let the mushrooms give off a little bit of their moisture, then add in a little bit of vegetable oil, or a small amount of butter. Let them cook for another minute or two, until they are golden brown and delicious. A minute or so before your mushrooms are finished, toss in your minced garlic to lightly cook off the raw garlic flavor. Don't worry too much about these cooking all of the way through, they're going to cook in the oven! Once your mushrooms and garlic are finished, preheat your oven to 375*, and prepare your 8"x8" baking dish. By prepare, I mean grease it. With butter. Just give it a quick rub down. No shame here.
Come on now, how can anything completely coated in butter be bad? It can't be. Now the rest of the fun begins. Peeling. All. Of. Those. Potatoes. I'm going to admit, if I wasn't scared of my 3 year old with a vegetable peeler, I would have let her take this job. She'll be there soon. Maybe I'll hold off making another gratin until she's old enough!
I peeled them, two by two, and ran them through my mandolin, more information about what a mandolin is, I have a post coming up very soon! I love how it gives absolutely uniform slices, for even cooking.
Continue adding your potato layers, about another two layers, then put another 1/2 tsp or so of salt, another round of fresh thyme, followed by another TBS of Parmesan cheese, and the rest of the mushrooms. Top with one more layer of potatoes, then pour your heavy cream over the potatoes, and sprinkle the rest of your Parmesan cheese over your amazing potatoes.
Once your layers have been pressed down, put a few sprigs of fresh thyme on top, then use the same aluminum foil and seal the baking dish, and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, this is what you will have. A yummy smelling pale dish.
Put this back into the oven, uncovered, for another 20-25 minutes, until it is golden browned to your taste, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, to let it all set up. Don't worry, this will still be screaming hot when you're ready to serve!
This truly is a lovely dish, both flavor-wise, and presentation-wise. People assume gratins are a lot of work, or are very expensive to make, and neither of which is true. I do hope you give this a try, and let me know how you liked it!