Sheila’s Potato au Gratin

  • Prep Time
    15 minutes
  • Cook Time
    1.5 hours
  • Serving
  • View

Wikipedia says:  Gratin is a culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbsgrated cheese, egg or butter. The term may be applied to any dish made using this method. Gratin is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is often served in its baking dish.

Sooo…this is an EASY but absolutely delicious potato dish that uses KRAFT VELVEETA CHEESE because of its melt-y quality. Velveeta is a shelf-stable cheese product made from substances including whey, milk, milk protein concentrate, modified starch, canola oil, and cheese culture.  As we all know, it has a smooth consistency, mild taste, and vivid orange hue. Now, I’m sure you can substitute some other wonderful and more chic cheese and you could even tease out a more complex flavor with other cheeses.  Feel free to do so!  But this recipe results in tender potatoes blanketed in a creamy cheesy homey sauce.  This recipe is all about slicing the potatoes uniformly with a mandolin slicer.  A note about THAT:  I once sliced off the tip of my finger because I thought I didn’t need a protective glove or the spiked food-holder that you’re supposed to use with one of these mini-guillotines. Don’t be reckless!  Emergency room doctors will tell you that the number one professional kitchen injury is a mandolin accident. Those things are sharp and it is way too easy to go too fast and get hurt.  So, use the food pusher and skip the trip to the ER.

And… who is Sheila?  Sheila is an old friend of an old friend and she used to make this dish.  When I found out she was using Velveeta cheese, I was surprised to say the least.  But if you assemble this dish carefully and bake it slowly and watch it, and then let it rest a few minutes… you will wind up with an elegant dinner party quality dish made from the most modest ingredients. You don’t have to tell anyone you used Velveeta cheese.  In fact, you can shred some white cheddar on the top of the casserole, and it will make your dish a pretty color, adding some saltiness and texture as well. Just show some respect to these ingredients and enjoy!  This is a great dish to slow-cook while you fire up the grill, get your steak ready and sip some good red wine.

And, yes, that is catsup on the table.  I will not be catsup-shamed!


Potatoes Au Gratin


    Step 1

    Peel and slice your potatoes. Slice them uniformly on a mandolin to about 1/8 inch.

    Step 2

    Start layering the potatoes in your beautiful Le Crueset casserole. One layer of potatoes, a sprinkle of Kosher salt, then cover with shredded cheese. Then, do another layer. Depending on the size of your casserole dish, you'll have five or six layers of potatoes, salt and cheese. When you get to the top layer, use your white cheese so that you don't wind up with an orange au gratin.

    Step 3

    Pour in the cream. You want the cream to coat the potatoes and come up the sides of the dish, but you don't want the cream to spill out of the dish. Tamp the potatoes down with the flat of your hand. Be sure you put your casserole on a cookie sheet because it might bubble over in the oven.

    Step 4

    Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Start watching the casserole. at around 50 minutes You might need to lower the temperature because you want TENDER potatoes and a bubbling brown cheesy top. You might need to cook this longer than an hour depending on the thickness of the potatoes, etc. Use a fork to test the tenderness of the potatoes and adjust cooking time and temperature accordingly.

    Step 5

    Let the casserole rest. That's important. It will thicken up. You can put it back into the oven later if you need to warm it up for dinner.

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