Telling your inner potato side dish perfectionist to pipe down
If you’re a regular here, you know one of my personal hang-ups is that I love to try things a thousand different ways. Life can be more exciting (plenty of new, fun things to keep the mind wheels turning) and yet sometimes more difficult (I realize I’ve made a wrong turn when I start thinking “Why did I have to be different this time? This is taking forever! Make it stop! I’m hungry!”). This experimental mindset brings out creativity and pride when I finally nail a signature recipe, and sharing this recipe with you is my way of saying “it’s done!”
“Stop modifying, Jenna! Put the spatula down! Get the post up!”
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How to not mess up potatoes gratin
This recipe is modified from Sunny Anderson’s Grilled Accordion Potatoes with Sage which was featured on the Today Show’s grilling series. Because I’m a woman of trying recipes a million different ways until one captivates my heart and tastebuds, I’ve made all the mistakes of this recipe for you.
First off: don’t make too far ahead.
I’m a huge fan of the make-ahead techniques like the one that saves time when you’re making a boat load of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. Cubing potatoes and putting them in cold water in the fridge keeps them from turning brown and lets you make oodles of mashed potatoes quickly when you’re ready. But since this recipe boasts a top layer of super crispness, you’ll want to avoid that soak-in-water-shortcut. It takes just a couple of minutes to mandolin your ‘tatoes before you assemble the dish. Just watch those finger tips!
Next: plan for spillage.
The creamy sauce becomes bubbly from the heat, and using a skillet or baking dish with high edges will capture the cream and keep it mingling with the potatoes instead of pouring over. If you have a shallow baking dish, use foil to create a faux aluminum “dish within a dish” with a higher edge. You’re protecting deliciousness in the making!
Finally: don’t fear the grill!
We first made this recipe on the grill, and I’m confident that will be my go-to method now that I have tried a few versions. It was wonderful in the oven also, but successfully making a side dish on the grill results in a spectacular feeling of accomplishment and a distinct smokey flavor the oven can’t match. Because let’s face it, usually there’s no food-heaven chemistry between the main dishes and sides people serve at BBQs. Creating a dish from the heart (and mandolin) is 10x more memorable than buying stinky old potato salad at the grocery store. Plus, then you can hang out by the grill with a glass of your favorite adult beverage and relax. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the ‘tatoes a bit more since it’s not always easy to gauge the exact temperature on the grill. (Credit my guy, master of the grill, who was like… “don’t forget to tell them…”).
Sub onions, zucchini, asparagus, etc.
Onions always make it into my version of this dish but you can add in all sorts of veg. Red and orange peppers become soft and sweet and add a colorful pop. Zucchini, asparagus, and other roasting-friendly veggies make excellent additions as well. And adding dashes of different spices like paprika or pre-mixed seasonings like Cajun or Bavarian to serve this dish over and over with a new twist.
Tools talk: do you need a mandolin to make potatoes gratin?
If you’re in the market for a skillet, I picked up really great cast iron skillets at places like Homegoods and TJ Maxx. I made this recipe in a cute orange one that is about 6” diameter and holds a solid two mandolined potatoes and veg. Don’t freak out if you don’t have a mandolin for your first time making this recipe, but once you fall in love with it I’d suggest getting a mandolin to make future dishes easier and faster to make.
Can’t get enough scalloped potatoes?
They’re so damn pretty. Here are more ideas to help you get your scallopped potatoes fix:
- Crock Pot Au Gratin Potatoes from a fellow grilled potato fangirl at Crazy Adventures in Parenting.
- Easy Sweet Potato Casserole by a relationship blogger + foodie at Brown Sugar Mama.
- Sweet Potato Gratin with Smoked Gouda and Sage from She Knows.
- My Pinterest Potato Side Dishes board has a collection of my latest potato obsessions.