Potato gratin with mushrooms & blue cheese
Potato gratin is a holiday must-make
Several years ago I substituted potato gratin for our Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. When my family learned there were no mashed potatoes in the works there was a loud rebellion...until they tasted my potato gratin. Now they won't have it any other way. And thank goodness, because I really hated making mashed potatoes. Just in case you are wondering, yes, you can serve gravy with your potato gratin.
Blue cheese, goat cheese and mushrooms take potato gratin over the top
Plain old potato gratin is about as perfect as you can get, but a few mushrooms and some blue cheese provide an umami pop that make this version exceptional. A little goat cheese also helps. You can use a variety of blue cheese, but Kerrygold makes an exceptional Cashel Blue made from milk from Irish grass-fed cows. I recently attended a wine and cheese event sponsored by Kerrygold and Rutherford wines. The Cashel Blue was my hands down favorite.
Or make your own version using your favorite ingredients
I spent a long time figuring out what makes potato gratin great, delving into details like what ratio of potatoes to liquid to cheese to use and whether cream or milk works best. Read my method post on potato gratin and you will be able to make your own version incorporating your favorite cheeses and vegetables.
Milk vs. cream
You can make potato gratin with either milk or cream, or half-and-half. I prefer cream. When you read my post you will learn why. My family has taste tested potato gratin made with milk and made with cream, and everyone prefers the cream. That said, we would all be happy to eat potato gratin made with milk; we just like the cream version a little better.
A mandolin is a must
See how happy Lauren is slicing the potatoes? That is because a mandolin makes all the difference when making potato gratin. It is quick and you get perfect thin slices of potatoes. I set my mandolin on 1/8" slice. Cutting even, thin slices makes the gratin look pretty, allows the potatoes to cook evenly and eliminates precooking the potatoes.
I have two mandolines. I really like my sturdy Oxo mandoline that my daughter Lauren is using above, but Oxo makes a new, less expensive model that has higher ratings. The Benriner Japanese mandoline is even less expensive, requires minimal storage space and is exceptionally well rated. I have one and like it for quick jobs, but tend to break out my Oxo for bigger jobs.
All mandolines are extremely dangerous if not used properly. They are very sharp and if you get moving quickly you can slice through your vegetable and your finger. There are three steps I take to protect myself from cutting my fingers when working with a mandoline:
- I wear cut resistant gloves when using my mandoline. Lauren is wearing a pair in the above picture. These help greatly, but you should be aware that they are cut-resistant, not cut-proof, so you still need to be very careful when operating your mandoline.
- I start slicing the vegetable holding it in my hand, but once the vegetable is halfway sliced I switch to using the food holder that is designed to protect against cutting yourself.
- I don't slice every piece down to the last slice. It is not worth the risk. You can always use these extra pieces for a salad or soup.
In general, I never cook with disposable pans. Potatoes gratin is the one exception to my rule. I learned this trick from my friend Tammy after spending half an hour scrubbing baked on cheese from my gratin pan.
I make these potatoes ahead of time and then warm them up in the oven right before serving. For Thanksgiving I warm them in the oven when I take the turkey out to rest.
Last bit of advice
Double the recipe and make two pans of these potatoes. They are every bit as good the next day as they are the first night.
Thank you to my nephew Parker for photographing these potatoes during the hustle and bustle of our family's September Thanksgiving.
Potato gratin with mushrooms & blue cheese
Yield 10 -12 servings
Potato gratin is the king of potato dishes. Baking thin slices with cheese and cream creates the ultimate comfort food. Adding a layer of blue cheese and mushrooms makes this great dish fabulous.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 leeks, washed and sliced using all of the white part and a little of the light green part
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 t chopped thyme, divided
- 1 1/2 t chopped rosemary, divided
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, or any waxy potato, sliced to 1/8"
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 4 ounces Kerrygold Cashel Blue cheese, or other creamy blue cheese
- 4 T grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 disposable foil pan.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan and saute the leeks for about 3 minutes until they soften. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and half the thyme and rosemary. Saute for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and their juices have absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Arrange one half of the potatoes in an overlapping pattern in the bottom of the baking pan until the entire surface is covered. Season with the remaining herbs and some salt and pepper.
- Spread the mushroom and leek mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the goat and blue cheese and half of the grated parmesan.
- Cover the mushroom and potato mixture with a layer of potatoes, again placing them in an overlapping arrangement.
- Mix the cream and milk together and carefully pour over the potatoes using a spatula to gently press down on the potatoes to submerge them. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for one hour minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cover with foil to keep hot if not serving right away.
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THIS SERVES WELL WITH