A few weeks ago Jeff from C for Cooking and I did a little cookbook swap. I gave him the cookbook I normally use, Everyday Italian and he gave me Bobby Flay Cooks American. This was a big challenge for me, because even though I am a food network whore, I've never watched any of Bobby Flay's shows nor tried one of his recipes. I thumbed through the book before the holidays not knowing which recipe to try because they all seemed so foreign to me. On Christmas my mom gave me a beautiful mandolin slicer (I guess she reads my blog and took note of the entry begging for one, Thanks Mom!) so I headed back to the book to see if any of the recipes called for ingredients that needed to be sliced on a mandolin. I cam across the Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Potato Gratin with Fresh Sage Recipe and knew this was the one I should try.
I should have known that this was not going to be a good experience when I reached into the drawer to pull out the mandolin and cut myself with one of the blades, after all bleeding was under control I began the process of trying to figure out how to get the blades on the slicer, and then how to get the onion in the thing and down the thing and sliced perfectly and then wham my finger slipped and I had yet another cut, except this one worse than the first and now it was stinging because there were juices from the onion on the blade and now the juices were in my cut and I was bleeding and what great fun. Why did I ever ask for this death machine in the first place? After what seemed like eons I finally got all the onions and the potatoes cut, and the onions caramelized I began the process of assembling the gratin which was rather easy now that all the ingredients were ready. I made the gratin and put it in the oven as directed and cooked it for the recommended amount of time, but when the timer went off and I took the gratin out of the oven it didn't even look cooked, the potatoes were still white and had not crisped at all, so I put it back in the oven for another ten minutes. When I took it out after ten minutes it still looked the same, no golden brown color on the potatoes, they still looked pretty raw. At this point I tried a little bit and was disappointed, because the potatoes on the top had a pretty good consistency, but the potatoes on the bottom still had snap to them and were not cooked all the way through. It was obvious that this dish needed a lot more time in the oven, but with all cutting and the bleeding and all it was already past 10:00 pm and I just wanted to go to bed. So I shut off the oven.
I was a little upset with my experience with this recipe, so I went to the food network website and read some of the reviews for the recipe and it seems I'm not the only one who didn't get the potatoes to crisp up, one person even said that they had to cook the potatoes for almost 2 hours, not the recommended 50 minutes before their potatoes took on the signature gratin brown color. But there were a few who had very good results from the recipe. I wish I knew what they did differently.
Oh well, for me Cookbook Swap Challenge #1 was a failure. I'm looking forward to Cookbook Swap #2 and hopefully redemption.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Vidalia (or other sweet variety) onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced on a mandoline
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
6 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandoline
2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sage. Let cool slightly.
Make a layer of potato slices in a 10 by 10 by 2-inch casserole, season to taste with salt and pepper, spread 1/12 of the onion mixture over the potatoes and coat with 2 tablespoons of the cream. Repeat each step to yield 12 layers. Press down gently on the layers, place the dish on a sheet pan and bake, covered for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on top. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.