To keep my learning about food and cooking on an upward trajectory, every now and then I pull a cookbook off the shelf and force myself to choose a recipe to make for dinner that very night. It has to be THAT book--I cannot put it down and pick up another--and the recipe has to be something that changes or adds to the way I feel about food.
Yesterday the book I pulled down was Patricia Wells' Simply French , and the recipe that intrigued me was this one for a potato gratin made with fresh tomatoes which are first made into a sauce. That was a new technique, and I was intrigued by her claim that adding sugar would reduce the acidity which I brought up in another thread: "Potatoes and Acid: Acid prevents potatoes from cooking fully, so it's best not to prepare a gratin with white wine, which is acidic. And though tomatoes may be added for color and flavor, adding a touch of sugar reduces acidity."
So I decided to make the gratin--without sugar. The sauce tasted very complete without extra sweetening, and the gratin cooked in exactly the time prescribed. Sugar would have only imbalanced the flavor and required the offset of at least another teaspoon of salt.
I liked the finished gratin, it was great as a vegetarian main dish served with a butter lettuce salad alongside dressed in a dijon vinaigrette with fresh tarragon and chives, and alongside a bottle of 2000 Bordeaux from Villa Bel-Air.
4 T EVOO
2 med onions, halved and thinly sliced
sea salt and ground white pepper to taste
3 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
5 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 T sugar (which I skipped)
2-3 lbs baking potatoes
2 T butter
1/2 c fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 425.
Prepare the sauce: in a skillet, heat 2 T of the oil, then add the onions. Cook until soft and transluscent, about five minutes. In another skillet, heat the remaining 2 T oil and add the garlic. When tender, add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar. Then combine the onions and tomatoes and cook about ten minutes more. Taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile prepare the potatoes. Peel, wash and slice thinly. Wash again and dry thoroughly. Set aside about one quarter of the potatoes which wil be used as the topping. For a particularly elegant preentation, trim the reserved potatoes into perfectly even rounds with a 1 1/2 inch pastry cutter.
Rub the bottom of a wide baking dish with the garlic and 1 T of the butter.
In a large bowl mix the potatoes and the sauce with your hands. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Add enough chicken stock to cover (her instruction, but that would be too much broth; add just enough broth to bring the liquid level to just under the top layer of potatoes. ) Now overlap the reserved potatoes on top and dot with bits of butter, thyme and the parsley.
Place the dish in the center of the oven and bake until the potatoes are soft, most of hte liquid has been absorbed and the top is golden, about 1.5 hours.
Last edited by Jenise
on Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov