Sunday, July 20, 2014

Potato Kale Gratin

Summer is filled with color and bright beautiful salads which we gladly eat on a daily basis in celebration of all the stunning produce that is available during these warm, sunshine-filled months. 

So when it finally drizzled for the first time in Los Angeles in over 6 months, it was the perfect chance to make something a little bit more cozy to serve with dinner. What keeps this gratin recipe still feeling like summer is the sautéed kale that is stuffed in between every layer.

First the question of what type of kale to use? My favorite for sautéing and braising is Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero, Palm Tree Kale, or Tuscan Kale). It is my favorite as far as overall taste and texture - it is slightly sweeter and a bit more delicate than curly kale. 

Now, how to pick the potatoes? You can use any potatoes but I tend to favor Yukon Golds (and I leave the skins on) when I make gratins.  Yukon Golds have a medium-starch level and they keep their shape while also absorbing liquid simultaneously and texturally, they have a natural "creaminess" that I really love. But you can, of course, use Russets, or any other potatoes you have on hand. 

Now, for the decision on what cheese to use!  This is where spending a little extra moolah can really enhance the overall outcome of your gratin. Buy a really good cave-aged gruyere cheese and also some Parmigiano-Reggiano. If those aren't an option, get a really sharp, aged white cheddar or manchego cheese. 

Potato Kale Gratin
makes 3 individual portions 

1 large bunch Nacinato Kale
3 large Yukon Gold Potatoes (or 6 small)
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream (you won't need all of it)
9 oz Gruyere 
3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp Aleppo Pepper (or 1/2 tsp red chili flakes)
1 Lemon, zested and juiced 
1 Shallot, sliced very thin
1 Tbsp Olive Oil 
Kosher Salt, to taste 
Cracked Pepper, to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees,
2. Wash the kale and chiffonade. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add the lemon zest, aleppo pepper, and shallot. Sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then add kale and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes until softened, but still holding texture. Remove from heat. 
3. Wash potatoes and leave skin on. Using a madoline, slice very thin. Shred cheeses and set those aside.
4. Start layering everything in your oven-safe baking dishes. First a layer of potatoes. Then sprinkle of salt and pepper, then cheese, then sautéed kale, and then repeat until you get to the top of the dish with the final layer being cheese. Then take the heavy cream and pour slowly over the top just until you start to see it come up the sides - not all the way to the top. 
5. Bake until golden brown and bubbly - about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the baking dishes.  Let rest for 5 minutes after pulling from the oven. Enjoy! 

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