thin-manIt’s become a tradition…

… around VS Central to ring in the New Year by juxtaposing the consumption of a decadent meal with a midnight viewing of William Powell and Myrna Loy in “The Thin Man”.

Hey, nobody party’s harder than Nick and Nora (even getting shot is just the right occasion for a quick martini!) so we’ve taken to celebrating the New Year while trying to “keep up with the Charles’ “; a drinking game ONLY to be played at home, and one that we NEVER win!

This year Austin was draped in a nasty fog that made going out to play bumper cars with the rookies even more tenuous than normal so the tradition continued.

With …

…providing the soundtrack for the evening we whipped up a great meal featuring prime steaks that were accompanied by sautéed mushrooms, peppery watercress and my rendition of a Jacque Pepin classic — Gratin Dauphinoise.

Normally a simple dish of potatoes cooked in a garlic cream (whole milk) sauce, depending on the occasion I will tweak the Dauphinoise with a bit with cheese or herbs … last night I hit it with light touches of three different cheeses and the result was incredible.

New Years steak 2I melted…

…chevre style goat cheese into the milk mixture, laced the gratin with a dusting of Reggiano and toped the dish with a scattering of Gruyere. The outcome was just as I hoped … no cheese forward flavor at all; rather a nice melding of the goat’s bite, the parm’s floral/salt edge and the gruyere’s nuttiness … it was perfect.

I highlighted the VS optional ingredients and tweaks in the recipe below so feel free to dial it back to Jacque’s pure-play version or experiment as the mood strikes you.

Either way this is a great side for just about any roasted red meat or poultry play … look past the carb fat-o-meter and make this special occasion dish!

Gratin Dauphinoise
Serves: 6-8
  • 1¾ pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
  • 2½ cups whole milk (I go a bit richer with a ⅓ half-&-half, ⅔ whole milk ratio*)
  • 2–3 garlic cloves, crushed, and finely chopped (1½ teaspoons)
  • 3-4 oz Chevre style goat cheese, broken into 1" chunks - optional*
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano cheese - optional*
  • 1 cup heavy cream (scox - ~1/2 cup if you run "rich" with the milk above*)
  • ⅓ -1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese - optional*
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the potatoes and slice them ⅛ inch thick, by hand, with a vegetable slicer, or with the slicing blade of a food processor. Do not wash the slices.
  3. Combine the milk, goat cheese*, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer until goat cheese* melts. Add potato slices to simmering milk and bring to a boil, stirring gently to separate the slices and prevent the mixture from scorching. It will thicken as it reaches a boil.
  4. Pour half the potato mixture into a lightly buttered 6-cup gratin dish, and sprinkle with the Parmigiano*. Pour the remaining potato mixture into the gratin dish. Level out the top of the potatoes and sprinkle with the Gruyere*; pour the cream on top. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for ~1 hour, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Let the potatoes rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving -- the rest time will bring the temp down below the "molten lava" level AND will allow the garlic cream to absorb into the potatoes.
* These ingredients and their associated recipe steps are OPTIONAL. This dish is traditionally a simple "garlic cream and potato" affair but historically, different regional and chef's interpretations include either richer blends of cooking liquid and/or cheese in some measure. I found the hint of "bite" (barely discernible) from the goat cheese in combination with the nutty Gruyere was fabulous. Any combo of the cheeses are nice tweaks to the traditional recipe; but even with ALL of them included this was not a cheesy potato dish … more like an elegant au gratin. Another option depending on the main course protein or where you want to take this recipe, is to add some fresh thyme leaves to the milk right before the baking step.