Ina Garten’s Potato-Fennel Gratin
Ina Garten’s Potato-Fennel Gratin is a special dinner family favorite at our house, but you might want to serve it next Monday night.
If ever we are having pot roast for dinner (see my family’s favorite entrée here), I know someone will request this Potato-Fennel Gratin, and I know I will oblige. Ina is my (along with everyone else’s) kitchen hero, and this is one of her classics. It’s the perfect side for roast meat or chicken, and besides, I love eating it as much as they do.
This super simple potato gratin makes your work easy with one kind of cheese – Gruyère – but tastes like a complex combination of ingredients. The secret is sliced fennel. If you haven’t used fennel before, it’s a hard bulb with long, fuzzy fronds growing out of it in stalks. It tastes something like an herby, more flavorful celery, with a faint hint of licorice. Cooked, it adds a unique, almost sweet flavor to an otherwise one-note potato gratin.
Friday or Monday, Ina Garten’s Potato-Fennel Gratin has a place on our table forever.
1 small fennel bulb
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon good olive oil
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound russet potatoes (2 large)
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1½ cups grated Gruyère cheese (¼ pound)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x9x2-inch baking dish.
Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 2 cups of sliced fennel. Sauté the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the potatoes in a large bowl with 1½ cups of the cream, 1 cup of the Gruyère, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the sautéed fennel and onion and mix well.
Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of cream and ½ cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 hour, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve hot.
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