Sooo, this year's holiday dinner is about to get a whole lot creamier and comforting. I mean... just take a look at this. Rich and creamy potatoes au gratin, aka the ultimate comfort food, is made with sliced potatoes, cheese, and milk. It's the perfect side dish for the holidays or for dinner ANY DAY.
So if you know, then you know, that I am obsessed with potatoes. Give them to me baked, mashed, fried, roasted, au gratin, in a poutine, and basically prepared in any and every way that potatoes can be prepared. Potatoes au gratin are kind of my jam these days.
What are Potatoes Au Gratin?
Potatoes au gratin a rich and creamy potato dish made with layers of sliced potatoes baked in a creamy cheesy sauce. But wait, isn't that also called scalloped potatoes? Well no. These are actually two similar but different dishes. The distinguishing feature that sets it apart is cheese. That's right, scalloped potatoes does not have any cheese.
So let me ask you, which would you prefer? Potatoes au gratin or scalloped potatoes? For me, it's a no brainer. Cheese wins. Every time.
How to Make the Best Potatoes Au Gratin
So, the key to making the very best creamy potatoes au gratin is to keep in mind the following tips.
- Thinly sliced potatoes - the easiest way to get those perfect thin slices is to use a mandoline slicer. It saves you time from having to manually slice each potato with a knife, and by getting even slices you can be confident that the potatoes will cook evenly.
- Onions - the secret is the pan fry the onions with garlic. Most gratin potato recipes do call for onions but they are just thrown into the baking dish raw. Trust me on this one. Pan frying in butter just brings out the flavours in a whole different and better way.
- Whole milk - most recipes for potatoes au gratin use cream in the cheese sauce. I have opted for a slightly healthier version using milk. But, you want to make sure to use whole milk to still get that creaminess that is ever so crucial in this dish.
- Cheese - lots and lots of cheese! I used a combination of my favourite cheese - sharp white cheddar and Grana Padano cheese. The results are to die for (at least according to my taste palate). You could easily substitute these for other melty types of cheese like regular cheddar, Gruyère cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 90 minutes - yup, it really does take that long! You will also need to bake the potatoes covered for the first hour, and then uncovered for the final 30 minutes. This will get you that beautiful golden brown colour on top.
FAQ and Tips for Making Potatoes au Gratin
- Can I made potatoes au gratin in advance? Absolutely. Prepare everything into your casserole dish and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Press the wrap directly on the potatoes to prevent them from browning, although some discolouration may happen on the top. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.