By Steph Farrar
You might be thinking, well this is a little late. Wasn't Thanksgiving last week? Why didn't I know about this recipe like 10 days ago? That way I could've skipped mashing all those damn potatoes. Don't fret. I'm cooking Christmas dinner for our entire family this year, and this scalloped potato dish will reign. I still have three weeks to plan the menu, but there is no way I'd leave this recipe out.
For as long as I've lived in Los Angeles, my outrageously talented and gorgeous girlfriends have gotten together for an annual potluck Holiday party and gift exchange. Two years ago I brought this dish which was literally destroyed within minutes of counter touch-down. It is not light; it is not vegan; it is not anything other than savory perfection. And I challenge you to either complement your mashed potatoes with this recipe, or completely substitute.
This year, I am hosting the gal party at our new(ish) house for Sunday brunch. It's a first; in lieu of a debaucherous, wine guzzling white elephant evening, we'll be taking down mimosas and lining up at an over-the-top Bloody Mary bar, while indulging in Joan's on Third ham and dauphinoise ficeles. My kids will be at their grandparents house for the afternoon, and I will be toasty by 3 pm. Let's get into the Holiday spirit as a team, guys.
This potato casserole always reminds me of my girlfriends and the comical memory of them stuffing their faces around a glorious Christmas tree at Meghan's then new house. I hope this memory stays with me forever and reminds me of a time when everything felt right in my world. One of those excellent, and thankfully not rare, moments where it's all good.
I'm in denial it's already December. Still trying to backtrack to the distant memory of Thanksgiving, and birthdays, and babies born, and date nights without early mornings to follow. Still trying to hold on to the past and all it brings to the present table. Still looking ahead at things to come and people to meet and grow with, new memories to make. All while staring at my wrinkling, dry hands typing at a vacant coffee shop, getting older with each sip of my cappuccino.
I never announced this year what I'm thankful for around our hectic Thanksgiving table. As you might expect, second to family, I am insanely grateful for my girlfriends. For how they enrich my life, and more importantly, how each of us is making a difference in the world. Making and taking steps to help our daughters and sons (and ourselves) grow up in a time and place where they completely and totally have a voice. A world where we are teaching them to look up (from their phones), pay attention, and speak up. A world that will one day, hopefully, not be quite so scary.
I do what I do for one reason. To gather around a table and share a meal with people I love and respect is truly all I need to feel fulfilled, joyful, and content.
Let's take care of each other. And gather.
Herb Scalloped Potatoes
100% stolen from Epicurious
1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, or just use the whole damn thing
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced fresh sage
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese (about 5 ounces)
Fill large bowl with cold water. Working with 1 Yukon Gold potato at a time, peel, then cut or mandolin slice into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and place in bowl with water. Repeat with sweet potatoes. Combine cream, butter, and garlic in medium saucepan; bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Mix all herbs in small bowl. Mix sea salt and black pepper in another small bowl.
Butter a medium to large baking dish (glass is best). Drain potatoes, then pat dry with kitchen towels. Transfer half of potatoes to prepared baking dish. Use hands to distribute and spread evenly. Sprinkle with half of salt-pepper mixture, then half of herb mixture. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes, salt-pepper mixture, herb mixture, and cheese. Pour cream mixture over gratin, pressing lightly to submerge potato mixture as much as possible. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Remove plastic wrap before baking.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover gratin tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until top of gratin is golden and most of liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes; serve.