Easy-Peasy Potato Gratin

I finally had to face it. Potatoes were taking over our kitchen. Red, russet, white and waxy. We'd been receiving a few every week in the farmshare, but I just hadn't had the heart to turn the oven on. You see, our old apartment was on the third floor. The kitchen had a minuscule window that barely opened. The ceiling fan made feeble attempts to cool things off. It just wasn't an appealing thought: sweating over the stove to make mashed potatoes just to sit down, continue sweating, and eat them. No thanks.

Cue: new apartment! Big windows! Nice, new kitchen! FIRST FLOOR BREEZE! The potatoes no longer seemed like a threat, but an opportunity. I love me a good bowl of mashed potatoes, but I wanted to do something else. Like I always do when I want to steer away from my favorite recipes, I consulted Mark Bittman's brilliant book, How to Cook Everything. It's not kidding. I could spend hours with that thing. I found a sublimely simple recipe for a potato gratin. Here is my adapted version:

Potatoes: 4-5 large, any kind you like (I used several kinds)
About a cup of good cheese. I used Jarlsburg.
Whatever dried herbs you like. I used rosemary and a fines herbes blend.
Warmed cream or milk (or combination), enough to come 3/4 of the way up to the top potato layer.
Salt and pepper.

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Scrub potatoes and thinly slice. I use a mandoline to get uniform slices. In a 9 x 13 in. oven-safe pan, place down one layer of potatoes, overlapping slightly. Lightly salt and pepper this layer. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese over the layer and then gently sprinkle on spices. Repeat the layering of potatoes, salt and pepper, cheese and herbs until everything has been put in place. Gently pour the warmed cream or milk into the side of the pan until it barely reaches 3/4 of the way up to the top potato layer. Bake approximately 45 minutes until top is lightly browned and a knife can easily pierce the potatoes. Enjoy!

First layer of potatoes, cheese, herbs and salt and pepper.
Browned cheesy, creamy, potato-y goodness!

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