Potatoes are yummy. I love them in all their infinite preparations. Potato chips are one of the few dangerous foods in my life. This potato gratin is still quite delicious but not nearly as dangerous as potato chips. Since it uses no cream and little cheese, you can eat a bit of it without feeling guilty.
The potatoes can be sliced with a knife if your knife skills are good. A mandoline makes it a bit easier and you can slice the potatoes much thinner than if you use a knife (unless your knife skills are exceptional).
This is a simple technique but it is widely adaptable. I don't use cream in the base recipe, but if you want something richer, cream works just fine. Better than fine, actually, but I don't routinely cook with cream.
You slice the potatoes thinly and layer them with seasonings in a large gratin pan or a quiche pan. You add some liquid so the potatoes stay moist while they bake. At the end, you add a little cheese and brown up the top. Takes a bit of time to bake but it's very easy. And the results are quite delicious.
Simple Potato Gratin
5-6 medium russet potatoes, sliced thinly (see notes)
1/2 tablespoon fresh herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs (see notes)
butter or olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups stock or cream
1 ounce finely grated hard cheese such as parmesan or romano
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Liberally grease the gratin pan with olive oil or butter.
3. Put a single layer of potatoes in the pan, overlapping somewhat.
4. Sprinkle on herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle on some olive oil or dot with butter.
5. Use the remaining potatoes to add another layer. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper.
6. Add liquid. It should not quite cover the potatoes.
7. Cover the gratin pan with foil and bake for 1 hour. The potatoes should be quite tender.
8. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
9. Sprinkle the gratin with cheese and bake for another 15 minutes.
10. Remove from oven, recover with foil and let sit for 5-10 minutes. It will be extremely hot so you want to let it cool and set up before serving.
11. Sprinkle on parsley, if using, and serve.
Notes: You want to use russet (aka Idaho potatoes) here because the starch binds the gratin together. Waxy potatoes, such as red or Yukon golds, don't contain enough starch.
You can use fresh or dried thyme, tarragon (particularly good if you are cooking the potatoes in cream) or parsley. If using rosemary, only use fresh. Dried rosemary is too tough.
Link to PDF of Simple Potato Gratin Recipe