I welcome recipe requests! Just send me a note and I’ll try to post it as soon as possible.
Please excuse the lack of pictures, as that’s just what I’m doing, as someone wants to make these for the Super Bowl tomorrow.
So here’s the strategy, formula, and technique. The proportions are more or less, give or take. Multiply or divide as you wish:
Preheat oven to 350
For a large batch, you’ll need some sort of a baking pan, glass or metal, 9 x 13” (about the size of a brownie pan). Note: for a small batch, use a smaller pan (or spread out in one layer and cook for less time).
Rub the pan with butter, oil, bacon fat, duck or other fat, whatever you have around, however healthy you want or don’t want to be.
I make this two different ways: with a béchamel sauce or with straight cream or half-and- half. If you’re using the béchamel (or white) sauce, make a large batch of it now:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt 4 T butter; mix in 4 T flour (this is your roux) and stir and cook on low for a few minutes while you warm @ 4 c milk or a mix of milk and cream. Whisk the warm milk into the roux a few tablespoons at a time, incorporating liquid thoroughly before adding more. Bring to simmer, turn down heat, and cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while.
If you’re using cream or half-and-half, you’ll want about 2c if it’s heavy cream and 2-3 c if it’s light cream or half-and-half.
If you’re using a 9 x 13” pan (about the size of a brownie pan), you’ll need about 10 medium large potatoes, about 4 pounds. Figure about one potato per person and an extra one for the pan if they’re on the small size.
Wash, scrub, and peel potatoes. Put in a bowl of cool water to keep them from turning brown as you work. Working quickly, slice a few of the potatoes thinly, and place a thin layer in the bottom of your greased pan. You can put them in neat rows, like I usually do, or you just spread them around like I sometimes do. Season lightly with salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle on some thyme or other herbs of your choice, if you like. Sometimes I’ll add some super thinly sliced onions or minced hot peppers, too. Pour about a third to a half of your cream or béchamel sauce over this layer.
If you’d like it with cheese, cover with a cup or two of grated cheese (cheddar, jack, gruyere, Swiss, parmesan, goat cheese, whatever you’ve got, whatever you’d like this time - you’ll need a total of 2 – 4 c grated cheese). Generally if I make it with béchamel, I use cheese, and if I use cream, I don’t. Dab with butter if you run 5 miles a day and your cholesterol is fine (you know who you are!)
Repeat the layers once or twice, slicing and layering the remaining potatoes with the other ingredients, depending on how much room, cream, and potatoes you have left.
If you’re using cheese make the very top layer cheese.
Cover with foil and bake covered for 1 ½ hours, checking every once in a while to see how it’s coming along, and removing the foil in the last 10 minutes, especially if it seems soupy or if your cheese needs to melt some more.