Thursday, February 10, 2011

Potato Gratin with Mushroom and Aged Cheese

This recipe takes time, but it doesn't take much skill and it has a very tasty result that can satisfy even the most hardcore meat eaters. It is not a "light" recipe, but eating less meat makes sense for many reasons besides health, one of which is protecting the environment. With Meatless Mondays becoming a global movement supported by VIPs like Oprah and by awesome people like me, this recipe it's a great way to skip the beef with happiness. Let's face it, whenever you combine potatoes with cheese and cream you get something comforting and satisfying that makes you feel warm and happy inside. This recipe moreover has mushrooms: mushrooms are among the foods rich in "umami", one of the five flavors, a japanese word used to describe the earthy, savory quality of foods like smoked meats ( think bacon and smoked salmon!), truffles and aged cheeses. So think of mushrooms and aged cheeses ( like the Gruyere in this recipe) as a wonderful substitute for bacon and that meaty flavor that your meat-eaters family members crave.

6 large potatoes
3 large leeks
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1.5 pound of mixed mushrooms ( I used pre-cut  Portabella and white mushrooms)
1 cup of grated aged cheese (I used Gruyere if you want to save some money use an aged cheddar )
2 garlic cloves

Peel and cut the potatoes into thin slices ( about 1/8 of an inch thick). You can use a slicer if you have one.
In a large pot pour the whipping cream and add the potatoes. Bring to boil and then simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Turn on the oven at 375 degrees.
While the potatoes cook, cut the white and light green part of the leeks and add to a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cook until softened.
Add the pre-cut mushrooms , add salt and cook for about 15 minutes, until soft.
Add the garlic to the mushrooms and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Uncover the potatoes and cook an extra 3 minutes stirring to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
Brush a large baking dish with oil.
Put half the potato mixture on the bottom of the baking dish, then add a layer of the mushrooms, than top with the other half of the mixture.
Top with the cheese.
Cook covered with tinfoil for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 20 minutes or until the top is brown.
Rest 10 minutes before serving.

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