Recipe - White Cheddar Potatoes Au Gratin

This recipe actually comes not from sudden inspiration but rather from a sort of necessity. As someone who works in marketing for her career, I am always interested in the trends that flow in and out of our world, and social media has been a constant for the past few years. When the occasion arose for a group of people to gather a slew of bloggers together for a Google+ (G+) case study on hashtags, I was so in. I'm curious myself about the findings of pooling the content and promotions of food bloggers all over for the term #KraftyCooking on G+ which will showcase all of the posts everyone will be generating before tomorrow's end. One of the options was to create a dish using either Kraft Mac & Cheese or Cracker Barrel cheese of which I chose the latter. More precisely, I opted for the Vermont Extra Sharp White Cheddar. Please note that I was not compensated for this recipe post nor were my ingredients sponsored.

We had an abundance of potatoes in the kitchen because they tend to come in large quantities when purchasing from the store. Duc had a craving one day for my roasted potatoes so we ended up with a bunch. Luckily, cheese and potatoes go well together so the idea for making gratin came easily. It was a savory, cheesy delight of a dish. Hope you'll enjoy making it!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 8-10 servings)

  • 4 lbs potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 7-8 oz sharp white cheddar (I used Cracker Barrel's)
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped green onions for garnish

Step 2: Prepping the ingredients
This is where a mandoline would probably come in handy but I only had my knife. Slice potatoes to about 1/4" thick. To speed up baking time, I steamed these too for about 8 minutes in the microwave (with water on them). You can use a regular pot too I suppose. Minced red onion and dice garlic cloves; saute these gently until barely translucent. Set aside. In an oiled 9x13 baking dish, start layering potato slices and onions with fresh grindings of black pepper as desired. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Step 3: Making the cheese sauce
I opted for making a cheese sauce to pour over everything rather than topping with cheese. Melt butter in a large saucepan before adding in flour and milk. You will need to stir constantly. Once the flour has incorporated well, add in mustard, salt, and cayenne. As sauce begins to thicken, add cheese. Continue stirring. Melt thoroughly until sauce is smooth. Pour over layers of potatoes evenly. It will fill in all the spaces.

Step 4: Finishing
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is a crusty golden brown. Remove and cool before serving. We garnished ours with some chopped green onions!

Photography by Duc Duong.