Perfect for Easter (or any old time of the year), we spun a classic recipe, potatoes au gratin, with a Smokehaus twist: our own dry-cured chorizo. The subtle smokiness of the chorizo offsets but does not overpower the earthiness of the potatoes, and the flowery-buttery nature of Gruyere binds the casserole into a creamy, harmonious dish that is all at once bright, silky, and memorable. Oh – and incredibly rich. Speaking of Gruyere, we used a recent addition to our cheese case from Wisconsin: Roth Kase’s Grand Cru.
Gratin Potatoes with Crispy Chorizo
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp (or so) butter
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
3 cups heavy cream, or a milk/cream mixture if you’re squeamish
1 tsp (or so) olive oil
1 link dry-cured chorizo
2-3 medium shallots
1/2 lb Gruyere
Scant teaspoon sea/kosher salt
1-2 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut each clove of garlic in half and rub the raw ends evenly over a large casserole (or Gratin if you’re fancy) dish. Reserve the garlic for later. Next, butter the dish and set aside. I also like to shred the Gruyere about now, so I don’t have to worry about it later.
Peel and slice the potatoes, making sure they are uniform. We cut ours in approximately 1/8 inch rounds, and this really did the trick. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine cream, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and squished-up garlic from the above – then add the potatoes and stir the concoction as best you can. Bring this up to a medium simmer, and once at this temperature, cook for 7-10 minutes or until the “sauce” slightly thickens and the potatoes become slightly flexible (but not soft).
While this is happening, skin the chorizo, then dice it into small chunks. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan on medium-high and saute the chorizo until it is crispy, 5-10 minutes. The goal is a crispy coating around a softer interior. When this is achieved, fish the chunks out with a slotted spoon but keep the oil in the skillet. Slice the shallots into rings and add them to the chorizo oil. Sauté for a few minutes, until soft but not crispy. Once again, remove the goodies with a slotted spoon. I suggest putting them in a white ramekin – the better to marvel over their jewel-toned transformation – but any old plate/dish/bowl will do.
If you have completed the chorizo/shallot work, I bet your potatoes are ready at this point, I like to taste the cream sauce for salt. It should be flavorful but not quite salty enough; remember – the chorizo and Gruyere will amp this up. Remove the pot from heat, and get ready to layer your casserole. Round up all the ingredients and coral them around the buttered, garlic-ed casserole dish. Start with the potatoes; gently lay them (along with any tag-along sauce) evenly along the bottom of the dish. Next, sprinkle the shallots, then half the chorizo, then half the Gruyere. Next, spread the rest of the potatoes (gingerly) on top, then the rest of the chorizo. Remove the bay and any large hunks of garlic from the cream sauce, and then pour over the casserole. Coat with the remaining Gruyere, and bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
We are now at the most unpleasant stage in this recipe: you must let it rest for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven. During this process, the chorizo oil will reabsorb into the potatoes and the whole shebang will solidify, enabling a perfect slice. I recommend leaving the kitchen at this point to make the process a little less excruciating.
Serve on its own, with steamed vegetables, or … BERKSHIRE SMOKED HAM!