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Goat Cheese and Potato Gratin

This is a modern version of a popular classic, scalloped potatoes. High-moisture fresh goat cheese delivers a lot of flavor with a bit less fat than hard grating cheeses. Look for soft fresh goat cheese as opposed to aged goat cheese covered by a rind. The fresh has a moderately creamy texture and can easily be crumbled when cold. It is typically sold in a disk or a log. Some varieties are seasoned with herbs or black or white pepper, but for this dish, plain unseasoned cheese is preferred.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 lb. small, round white potatoes 
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish 
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste  
  • 3 oz. crumbled cold fresh goat cheese (about 3/4 cup) 
  • 1 1/4 cups 1-percent-fat milk 
  • 1 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Brush an 8-inch square or other shallow, 1 1/2-quart baking dish with the olive oil.

Using a mandoline, a food processor fitted with the slicing blade, or a large, sharp knife, slice the potatoes paper-thin.

In a small bowl, stir together the parsley and the 1 tsp. thyme. In another small bowl, stir together the flour, salt and a grind of pepper. Place the goat cheese in a third bowl.

Arrange one-third of the potato slices, slightly overlapping them, in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with half of the herb mixture, half of the flour mixture and one-third of the goat cheese. Arrange half of the remaining potato slices on top, again overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining herb mixture, the remaining flour mixture and half of the remaining cheese. Arrange the remaining potato slices in a layer on top and sprinkle evenly with the remaining goat cheese. Pour the milk evenly over the top.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake the potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Uncover, sprinkle the top lightly with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and continue to bake until golden, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. The moisture in the dish will thicken and be reabsorbed by the potatoes.

Garnish the gratin with thyme leaves, cut into squares, and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).