Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cuisine: Three Cheese, Twice-Baked Sage Scalloped Potatoes

I crafted this recipe for xmas dinner. I was serving pork, and I knew I wanted some potato-y goodness to go along side it. I love potatoes, so I am pretty much a whiz when it comes to cooking them in any form. Still, I wanted something truly special, something that would blow the socks off of my dear family coming for dinner.

This recipe is what I came up with, and boy is it a little piece of heaven. The potatoes are firm and give when bitten. The cheese all blends nicely together. And the sage...well... just WOW! It brings in just the right amount of flavor thanks to its double treatment in the buttermilk and the clarified butter.

These potatoes are perfect for the cook that is serving something special and doesn't have a big kitchen or stove. The fact that they are twice cooked means that you can set it in a low heat oven the next day along with your roast. (Hey that's what I did!) And just to note: milk will separate a little, but don't worry it tastes fantastic! And the buttermilk is waaaay better than cream for this recipe. The tart is just right.

You will need:
4 large russet potatoes weighing about 4 pounds, peeled and sliced thinly
1 stick butter
1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
20 sage leaves, separated
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart buttermilk
8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces gorgonzola
5 ounces parmesean
cider vinegar

What to do:
Put the potato slices in a large bowl with cold water, ice, about 2 TBSP salt and 2 capfuls of cider vinegar. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt stick of butter in a small heavy bottomed sauce pot. Keep temperature low so as not to brown butter. Skim foam off of butter. Add thinly sliced onion, crushed garlic, and 10 chopped sage leaves. Cover pot and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure onions cook. Continue to keep temperature really low, almost below a simmer. You don’t want to brown the onion, garlic, and sage as well. Think of it almost as steaming in butter.

While the onions are cooking, pour buttermilk in a large heavy bottomed sauce pot. Add 10 whole sage leaves and a dash of salt. Cook over a very low heat until it almost comes to a simmer. It should be about the same temperature as the butter. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn off and let the sage leaves seep for 30 more minutes. Remove sage leaves and discard.

As the buttermilk cools, strain the butter. Set aside onions, sage, and garlic. Pour butter into a small bowl and let it come to room temperature. (It won’t be solid yet.) Put saran wrap over it and put it in the freezer. Freeze for about 20 minutes or until it turns to a solid on top. There will be liquid in the bottom.

Shred all of the cheeses together. Set aside about 2 cups and place in the fridge for the second baking.

Heat the over to 325 degrees. Drain, thoroughly rinse, and dry the potatoes. Grease a 13 X 9 inch pan. Put one layer of potatoes in the bottom of the pan. As you lay the potatoes down, make sure they overlap. There will be about four rows. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Next sprinkle a layer of cheese (This should be the layer with the most cheese for this first baking.) Then spread a layer of onions and drizzle the liquid from the bottom of the butter. Then drizzle about ½ cup of buttermilk. Lay another layer of potatoes down. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Sprinkle with cheese. Spread out the remaining onions. Drizzle a cup and a half of buttermilk over everything making sure to get buttermilk into the sides of the pan. Lay the last layer of potatoes. If there are a bit remaining that is okay. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Using about 1 TBSP of butter, cut it up into small pieces. Dot all over the potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese. Drizzle about 1 ½ cups of buttermilk over everything. You can use the remaining slices for a row around the edges. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Drizzle with a little buttermilk. (There will be butter left over and a little buttermilk as well.)

Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Put in fridge to be cooked the next day.

The next day, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Decorate the potatoes with some whole fresh sage leaves. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn up heat to 375 degrees. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until top begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

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