I am not sure why, but the advent of spring inspires me to write about … food. Maybe it is because I am so tired of stews and roasts and apples and oranges and pink tomatoes that I could SCREAM!!!!! However, as those of you north of the Mason-Dixon line know, spring did not arrive on March 20 as scheduled. If fact, as I write this blog on March 23 it is 25 degrees and outside my window, patches of snow sneer at me.
So my husband–Mr. Meat and Potatoes– and I are going to sneer right back. His suggest is a barbecue, and why not? Is there anything that says “summer” more than a barbecue. Mr. Meat and Potatoes lugged home four racks of baby back ribs (hope that’s enough for the two of us), which are beginning their slowwwwww cook in the oven. When they are ready, he will toss them on our newly awakened grill and finish them off with a little barbecue sauce.
What about the potatoes? Well, that’s my job. I have decided to contribute a genuine French-style potato gratin that I usually reserve for Easter. Like the ribs it is slow-cooked and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Potato Gratin for Easter (or spring or pretending it’s spring)
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
3 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Ground pepper to taste
1-2 cups Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1 cup crème fraiche (you can also thin sour cream with a little milk)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub inside of a 14x9x2 gratin dish with garlic. Arrange potatoes in dish. Mix the milk, eggs and salt and pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper.
Bake, occasionally cutting the crust that forms on top and fold into potatoes for about 55 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Remove gratin from oven and dab with crème fraiche and sprinkle with cheese. I like to cover the dish with foil and let rest for 15 or 20 minutes to let the crème fraiche soak into the potatoes. This can also be the place with you stop if you are cooking ahead.
Remove foil if you covered it for a rest.
Return dish to oven and bake until top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.