I’m looking forward to the opening of the “new” Whitey’s restaurant in East Grand Forks. A far as I’m concerned, the old-time favorite of many people, including longtime residents and former UND students, never quite measured up to what it was before the Flood of 1997.
And having lived here for almost four decades, I know what kind of quality dining experience the famed eatery offered prior to the devastation the Red and Red Lake rivers unleashed on us 14 years ago.
One of dishes that I almost always ordered during Whitey’s heyday was the au gratin potatoes. I’ve never had any other restaurant duplicate that spud dish that would come to the table steaming hot and bubbly.
And I’ve tried my hand a couple of times at making au gratins at home, but none of the recipes ever have come close to matching Whitey’s.
However, whenever I come across a new au gratin potato recipe, my instinct is to give it a try. And that’s what I plan to do with the following recipe that was adapted one served at a restaurant in Julian, Calif. (Jerry’s on the Hill). It is advertised by a food reviewer as creamy, rich, flavorful and perfectly baked with lovely browned areas throughout.
Sounds like the old Whitey’s au gratins to me!
Artichoke and Potato Au Gratin
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups grated Gruyere cheese
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch), divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups drained marinated artichoke hearts
1 quart heavy cream, divided
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15-by-11-inch baking dish with butter.
In a medium bowl, combine the Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses.
Line the bottom of the baking dish with one-half of the sliced potatoes, overlapping the slices and forming rows to make a single layer.
Season the potatoes with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Sprinkle over the garlic.
Add the artichoke hearts, arranging them in a single layer over the potatoes. Scatter 1/3 of the grated cheese mixture over the artichokes, then drizzle over ½ of the heavy cream.
Arrange the remaining potatoes in a single, overlapping layer over the cheese. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle over the remaining cream, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Butter the underside of a piece of foil to keep the cheese from sticking, then cover the baking dish. Bake the gratin until the potatoes are softened and almost completely cooked, 45 minutes to an hour (a knife should easily pierce the potatoes). Uncover the gratin and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a rack before serving.
Yield: Serves 16.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 432 calories, 15 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 32 grams fat (19 grams saturated), 113 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams sugar, 470 milligrams sodium.