There is something rustic about a well-prepared potato gratin. With its French roots, the dish holds up well to variations in cheese, additional ingredients and baking methods. In this recipe, the use of three white cheeses retains the classic white color but provides a complexity to the sauce. The addition of bacon and scallions adds a flavor nuance and color to the final dish. Using the country ham option to line the custard cups adds a pleasant salty, hardiness to the dish and creates a small entrée as a partner with a lunch salad.
2 lbs russet potatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 slices bacon, diced
1/3 c scallions, sliced thin
3 c whipping cream
½ t kosher salt
1/8 t freshly grated black pepper
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
1/3 c Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/3 c white cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ c Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
8-12 thin slices country ham (optional)
Heat oven to 400°F.
Peel potatoes. Using a mandolin or sharp knife slice potatoes to 1/8” thickness. Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with water. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Occasionally stir carefully ensuring the potato slices do not break. Drain potatoes with care. Discard garlic. Set potatoes aside to cool. Return saucepan to cooktop.
In a heavy skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp, 4-5 minutes, stir to separate. During final minute, add sliced scallions. Remove from heat and drain bacon and scallions on a paper towel. Set aside 1/3 of the mixture.
In the same saucepan as used for the potatoes, heat the cream, salt, black pepper and nutmeg over medium high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes to reduce cream. Turn heat to low and stir in the three cheeses. Continue stirring until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Remove ½ cup of the sauce and set aside. Add potatoes and stir carefully to evenly distribute potatoes in the sauce.
Spray 8 custard cups with oil.
Tier 3 without ham:
Evenly divide the bacon and scallions between the custard cups. Fill custard cups with potatoes and sauce. Pack down the potatoes to ensure a solid fit. Place custard cups on a sided baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes. (Sauce thickens as it cools) Run a sharp knife around the sides of the custard cups. Hold an individual serving dish over each custard cup. Carefully turn over onto the plate and remove the custard cup.
Tier 3 with ham:
Line each custard cup with the ham slices, cutting slices to fit. Fill each cup half full with potatoes and sauce. Evenly divide the bacon and scallions between the cups. Finish filling with potatoes and sauce. Pack tightly. Place custard cups on a sided baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the custard cups. Hold an individual serving dish over each custard cup. Carefully turn over onto the plate and remove the custard cup.
Sprinkle reserved bacon and scallions between the plates. Drizzle reserved sauce over all of the potato mounds.