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Subject: Potatoes Au Gratin
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

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From: Scott 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 12:21:29 -0600
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I'm making Potatoes Au Gratin tonight for an office pot-luck tomorrow. 
I've been going through various recipes and some say to cook the 
potatoes before placing in the casserole dish and others don't. So my 
question is should I precook or not?

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From: Sqwertz 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 12:54:16 -0600
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Precook, or at least blanch them to get rid of some of the
starch.

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From: Scott 
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 14:10:33 -0600
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Sqwertz wrote:
> Precook, or at least blanch them to get rid of some of the
> starch.

They came out OK. The potatoes weren't as soft as I hope though. What I 
did was slice 1/8" thick then cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Then boil a little 
over 5 mins then baked at 350 for 1 hr 10 min. I think it's a good idea 
to precook if anything to clean and blanch them like you said. Plus they 
look nicer since they don't have that 'been sitting out too long' look. 
The water looked pretty nasty after boiling. They also didn't taste 
cheesy enough so next I'm using sharp cheddar instead of mild.

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From: Lou Decruss 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 19:15:03 GMT
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Scott wrote:
>I'm making Potatoes Au Gratin tonight for an office pot-luck tomorrow. 
>I've been going through various recipes and some say to cook the 
>potatoes before placing in the casserole dish and others don't. So my 
>question is should I precook or not?

I'm not sure I'd make anything for a pot luck I'd not mastered but
more power to you if you have the nerve.

I agree with Steve at to pre-cook to fork tender.  I like to to that
in chicken broth, and add salsa in between the layers.  I don't use a
recipe anymore but this one looks even better than what I usually
make.  Anyone can make Au Gratin spuds so add your own touch.

From here:

http://www.milk.mb.ca/Recipes/entree-salsa-scalloped-potatoes.asp


1   lbs  	 potatoes (about 4 medium)  	 750 g
2/3 cup 	diced peppers (red, green, or both) 	150 mL
2 	green onions, thinly sliced 	2
2 Tbsp 	butter 	30 mL
3 Tbsp 	flour 	45 mL
1   cups 	milk 	375 mL
1 tsp 	ground cumin - optional 	5 mL
1   cups 	grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided 	375 mL
 cup 	well-drained salsa (mild or medium) 	50 mL
 tsp 	salt to taste 	1 mL

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter a 2 qt (2 L) baking dish and set
aside. Peel and thinly slice potatoes. In a covered casserole,
microwave potatoes on High for 7 minutes, stirring once. Set aside. In
the bottom of the buttered baking dish, layer half each of the
potatoes, peppers and green onions. Repeat the layer and set aside. In
a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, blending well. Add milk and
cumin and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until thickened. Whisk
in 1 cup (250 mL) of the grated cheese until smooth. Stir in salsa.
Pour milk mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake
for 35 min or until potatoes are tender and the top is bubbly and
golden.


Nutrient Content
Per Serving: Energy: 325.4 Kcal  Carbohydrate: 37.2 g  Protein: 12.6
g     Fat (Total): 14.6 g  Calcium: 314.3 mg

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From: aem 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 13:43:24 -0800 (PST)
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Lou Decruss wrote:
> I agree with Steve at to pre-cook to fork tender.  [snips]

No, not to fork tender.  Just about 5 minutes.  You want them to
retain their sliced shape, not to fall apart into mush.  The final
baking finishes the cooking.     -aem

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From: Lou Decruss 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 22:10:05 GMT
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aem wrote:
>No, not to fork tender.  Just about 5 minutes.  You want them to
>retain their sliced shape, not to fall apart into mush.  The final
>baking finishes the cooking.     -aem

I know you're not supposed to admit to being wrong on usenet, but
maybe I'm not clear on what "fork tender" actually means.  I'm open to
hearing definitions.

Mine retain shape.  I slice them thin with a mandoline.  5 minutes
sounds perfect.  There is no "mush" when I'm done. 

So what exactly is fork tender?

Learning Lou

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From: Scott 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 16:28:53 -0600
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Lou Decruss wrote:
> Mine retain shape.  I slice them thin with a mandoline.  5 minutes
> sounds perfect.  There is no "mush" when I'm done. 

I'm going for about 5 mins then.

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From: Sqwertz 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 17:21:19 -0600
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Scott wrote:
> I'm going for about 5 mins then.

3.5 minutes at 1/4" thick in 200F water.

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From: Sqwertz 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 17:23:27 -0600
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Sqwertz wrote:
> 3.5 minutes at 1/4" thick in 200F water.

... and drain well on paper towels.

You don't want water in your gratins.  The paper will sock up the
residual starch.

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From: aem 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 14:51:21 -0800 (PST)
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Lou Decruss wrote:
> So what exactly is fork tender?

I guess I took "fork tender" to be softer than you meant.  We seem to
agree on the cooking, which is what matters.  -aem

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From: sf
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 21:55:49 -0800
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Lou Decruss wrote:
>Mine retain shape.  I slice them thin with a mandoline.  5 minutes
>sounds perfect.  There is no "mush" when I'm done. 

why would you need to precook them if you've sliced them thinly on a
mandoline?

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From: Terry Pulliam Burd 
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2007 20:23:34 -0800
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sf fired up random neurons and synapses to opine:
>why would you need to precook them if you've sliced them thinly on a
>mandoline?

Eggsackly. And why precook it? That would make it hard to layer
properly, IMHO.

A mandoline is truly one of the better kitchen inventions of the last
century. I had a wooden mandoline-ish board from my grandmother with a
metal slicer and adjustable (barely) thickness lever before I bought
my current mandoline a few years ago. Wonderful gizmo to get uniform
slices of whatever thickness you like. Also does a great job at
julienne, etc. 

The caveat is: Watch What You're Doing. You can lose a chunk of finger
if you're careless. I *never* imbibe alcohol (as I sometimes do while
cooking - usually a glass of chardonnary, unless the recipe turns on
me like a snake and I switch to single malt :-) when I'm using the
mandoline. And my movements are slow and careful. The food processor
does a fast (and safe) job of slicing stuff, but it's random and
sloppy when you're trying to get uniform slices that look good.

One of my favorite potatoes au gratin recipes (I omit the breadcrumbs,
however):

@@@@@ Now You're Cooking! Export Format

Potato Gratin With Mustard And Cheddar Cheese

vegetables

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound cheddar cheese; white, grated
1/4 cup flour
5 pounds russet potatoes; peeled, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs
and stir until crumbs are golden brown, about 10 mins. Cool crumbs.
(Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and let stand at room
temperature.) 

Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 400 F. Butter
15x10x2" (4 qt.) glass baking dish. Mix thyme, salt and pepper in
small bowl. Combine grated cheddar cheese and flour in large bowl;
toss to coat cheese

Arrange 1/2 of potatoes over bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of
thyme mixture, then 1/3 of cheese mixture over. Repeat layering of
potatoes, thyme mixture and cheese mixture 2 more times. Whisk chicken
broth, whipping cream and mustard in medium bowl to blend. Pour broth
mixture over potatoes.

Bake potatoes 30 mins. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over. Bake until
potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, about 1 hour longer. Let
stand 15 mins. before serving.

Contributor:  Bon Appetit

Yield: 12 servings

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From: Julie Bove 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 23:36:46 GMT
--------
Scott wrote:
> I'm making Potatoes Au Gratin tonight for an office pot-luck tomorrow. 
> I've been going through various recipes and some say to cook the potatoes 
> before placing in the casserole dish and others don't. So my question is 
> should I precook or not?

You don't need to precook, but you do need to slice very thinly if you 
don't.  I use my big mouth food processor. 

============================

From: llanalott[at]yahoo.com
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:25:20 -0800 (PST)
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Julie Bove wrote:
> You don't need to precook, but you do need to slice very thinly if you
> don't.  I use my big mouth food processor.

Makes quick work out of a mountain of potatoes.

Sometimes I still use a manual food processor. The old fashioned knife.

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From: sf
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 21:58:23 -0800
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Julie Bove wrote:
>You don't need to precook, but you do need to slice very thinly if you 
>don't.  I use my big mouth food processor. 

LOL!  Finally a female with real cooking experience weighs in.  That
has been my experience too.  Don't bother precooking the potatoes.
Why do men make cooking so complicated???

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From: Jill McQuown 
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 08:20:58 -0600
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Julie Bove wrote:
> You don't need to precook, but you do need to slice very thinly if you
> don't.  I use my big mouth food processor.

I've never pre-cooked the potatoes, either.  Sometimes I use my food
processor but even thinly sliced with a chef's knife is fine.  I bake mine
at least an hour which is plenty of time for those slices to get tender.

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From: Tara 
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 12:30:42 -0500
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Julie Bove wrote:
> I use my big mouth food processor. 

Ooh!  Is this the one you can drop a whole onion into?  I really want
that one.

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From: sf
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 16:32:10 -0800
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Tara wrote:
>Ooh!  Is this the one you can drop a whole onion into?  I really want
>that one.

You can if your onion is small enough Tara.  I usually halve them
though.

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From: Julie Bove 
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2007 01:00:42 GMT
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sf wrote:
> You can if your onion is small enough Tara.  I usually halve them
> though.

That's true.  I LOVE onions and tend to buy really big ones.  The ones I 
grow in my garden will fit in there just fine.  Also, it took me a while 
before I realized that you can adjust the size of the chute so I thought 
only small whole things would fit in there.  I also love it for grating 
zucchini for bread. 

============================

From: Julie Bove 
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2007 00:57:56 GMT
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Tara wrote:
> Ooh!  Is this the one you can drop a whole onion into?  I really want
> that one.

Yes!  I actually never thought I would use a food processor, but then I saw 
that one and it was cheap, so I got it.  Just used it to make cranberry 
salad.  It saves me a LOT of time!  I mainly use it to chop, slice and shred 
veggies.  But I also use it for a few raw recipes. 

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From: "Michael \"Dog3\"" 
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 01:42:45 GMT
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Scott dropped this:
> I'm making Potatoes Au Gratin tonight for an office pot-luck tomorrow. 
> I've been going through various recipes and some say to cook the 
> potatoes before placing in the casserole dish and others don't. So my 
> question is should I precook or not?

When in doubt, blanche them. 

============================

From: Cshenk 
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 19:50:07 -0800
--------
Scott wrote:
> I'm making Potatoes Au Gratin tonight for an office pot-luck tomorrow. 
> I've been going through various recipes and some say to cook the potatoes 
> before placing in the casserole dish and others don't. So my question is 
> should I precook or not?

I guess I;m too late for 'tonight' but if you boil them for about 5 mins 
then cool them in cold water, let chill for a bit, then bake, they wont fall 
apart as easy on serving.


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