Easter is coming soon and this year I decided to share my favorite recipe for an old favorite. Gratin is a french term for a dish of cooked potatoes topped with bread crumbs or cheese and baked until a crust forms on top. In the United States we commonly refer to this dish as scalloped potatoes with ham, but it sounds fancier when you call it gratin. For my gratin I use yukon gold potatoes, white cheddar cheese, and cooked ham. If you do not want ham in your gratin, this recipe will turn out just as good with out it. Gratins freeze well so if you want to make yours now and reheat it in the oven for a special brunch or dinner you can.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons and cups, a rubber spatula, a whisk, a sauce pan, a large mixing bowl, a large rectular baking dish, a knife, a cutting board, and a sauce pan.
If you are not allowed to use a knife or the stove by yourself you can ask an adult for help.
ChefElla's Yukon Potato and Ham Gratin (Yields 10-12 servings )
1 Lb. Ham Cooked, Diced Into Bite Sized Pieces (3 ¼ Cups)
3 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, Skin On, Thin Sliced
-Cut potatoes in half. Put potatoes cut side down and slice thin.
1 ½ Cups Yellow Onion, Julienne (About ½ of a medium onion)
-Cut off root and plant ends of the onion. Peel off paper skin. Place onion on flat end. Cut onion in half. Place onion flat side down with plant or root end facing toward you. Slice up the onion, but do not cut into half-moons, cut across the onion. The pieces should break apart into strips.
1 Stick Butter, (1/2 Cup)
½ Cup Flour
3 Cups Skim Milk
½ Lb. White Cheddar Cheese, (Grated or cut into small pieces)
1 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
3. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Put sauce pan on stove over medium high heat. Add 1 stick of butter and stir occasionally until it melts.
4. When the butter melts add ½ cup of flour and whisk continuously until the butter and flour are mixed well. Make sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom. Turn the stove to medium. Stir the mixture, roux, (pronounced roo) occasionally. Keep watching the roux cook. It will begin to turn from a white to blond color. When the roux begins to turn a light tan or brown color add 1 cup of the milk and mix well. The roux will turn into a paste. When all of the milk is combined with the roux add 1 more cup of milk. When all of the milk is combined with the roux add the final cup of milk and mix well. This sauce is called a white sauce or béchamel (beh-sha-mel). This whole process should only take about 5-7 minutes.
5. Turn the heat to low and when the béchamel begins to bubble add the cheese, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Mix slowly until all of the cheese is melted into the béchamel. Remove the cheese sauce from the heat and set aside.
6. Prep you potatoes, ham, and onions. If you have a very large mixing bowl, mix your potatoes, ham and onions. Using your rubber spatula, cover the ingredients with your cheese sauce, and mix well. If you do not have a large bowl split all of your ingredients in two smaller bowls. The sauce should coat the potatoes, ham, and onions.
7. Transfer all of the ingredients into your baking dish. You may have to push the ingredients down a little. If you do not have a large baking dish you can split the ingredients into multiple dishes. (For a fun alternative you could bake the gratins in non-stick muffin tins or individual cups called (ramekins), but take care this will change the cooking time.)
8. Cover the baking dish with foil, line a cookie sheet with foil, place baking dish on the foil covered cookie sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes uncover and bake gratin for 1 more hour.
9. Remove the gratin from the oven and serve. If you would like you could pre-slice the gratin into squares to make serving easier, or you can just scoop the gratin out from the pan.
10. If you are going to freeze your gratin, let it sit for 20-25 minutes after baking and then place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. After two hours in the refrigerator, wrap the gratin tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. Thaw and bake your gratin when you are ready to eat.