Potato Gratin (or, in Boston, Scalloped Potatoes)

I owned a grain pan (a shallow oval enamel pan) for about 10 years before I ever used it. Somehow the pan just begged for a real gratin and this one was just what I dreamed of: creamy and rich with a crusty top. Finally, a gratin worth having a pan for.

Serves 6 to 8.

½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
1¾ to 2 pounds new potatoes, cut in ⅛-inch-thick slices
2 cups shredded cheddar or Gruyére cheese (optional)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a gratin dish or an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

2. Place the cream, milk, salt, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Lower the heat to low and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place one third of the potatoes in the buttered dish, add one half of the cheddar cheese, and repeat until the potatoes are all added. Pour the hot cream over them. Press down with the back of a spoon.

3. Transfer to the oven and bake until the potatoes are tender, about 45-55 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to high, press the potatoes down again, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Continue baking until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)