Deeply flavorful yet not too rich, these gratins make a delicious appetizer. But you can also serve them, with a couple of side vegetables, as a main course for a dinner party or a holiday meal.
To get the maximum flavor out of the shiitake mushrooms, you’ll want to sauté them until golden-brown. The trick is to cook them at high heat and to not stir them too often as they cook (see the tips below the recipe).
As for the fresh herbs, toss them with the mushrooms for a few seconds only to preserve their exquisite aromas.
When you make these gratins, I think you’ll agree they’re as delectable as they are comforting.
A Pinot Noir is delectable with these gratins. How about a Pinot from the Russian River Valley in northern California?
Shiitake mushroom and Yukon gold potato gratins with fresh herbs
active time: 45 min
For the mushrooms
- 12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley – stems removed
- 8 sprigs thyme – leaves removed from stems
- 2 sprigs winter savory or rosemary – leaves removed from stems
- 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems trimmed and cut in 1/8″ slices
- 2 large shallots – skinned, quartered and finely sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the gratins
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb (455 g) medium Yukon Gold potatoes – unpeeled, cut in 1/8″ slices (use mandoline or blade attachment of food processor)
- 4 oz (115 g) coarsely grated cave-aged gruyère (1 1/2 cups)
- 8 half-cup-capacity ramequins – lightly buttered
- Step 1: Place the herbs and the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Alternatively, place the herbs and garlic on a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
- Step 2: Heat a large non-stick skillet to high heat. Add the butter and oil. As soon as the butter is melted, add the mushrooms. Toss well and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until golden, stirring only occasionally (see Viviane’s Tip below). Add the shallots and continue to sauté for 2 minutes until shallots have softened. Add the herb/garlic mixture, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Step 3: Whisk the milk, cream, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Place a third of the potato slices at the bottom of each ramequin, enough to cover the surface. Top with half the mushrooms. Then top with a third of the potato slices. Top again with half the mushrooms and finish with the balance of the potato slices. Drizzle with the milk mixture. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the gratins in their molds.
- Cook’s note 1: To make ahead – Although they’re best eaten the day they are made, the gratins can be baked for 40 minutes until just golden, then cooled and refrigerated up to 1 day. To serve, bring to room temperature and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 6 to 8 minutes until bubbling at the sides.
- Cook’s note 2: If you prefer to make a large gratin rather than individual ones, use a medium ceramic or glass baking dish. Layer the ingredients exactly as described above and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 45 to 50 minutes.
Don’t throw away the shiitake stems. Although they’re fibrous and inedible, they’re still full of that delicious mushroom flavor. Place them in a ziplock bag and freeze them. You can use them later for making stocks, like this versatile and flavorful vegetable stock.
Cooking mushrooms can be a bit tricky. Here are a few rules to follow:
1. Always work with a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan.
2. Cook the mushrooms at high heat so that their moisture evaporates quickly. This will prevent them from becoming soggy.
3. Don’t stir the mushrooms continuously. Give them a chance to get a lovely golden color before you stir them. At first, stir every two minutes. Halfway through the cooking, when the pan gets hotter and the mushrooms have lost a lot of their moisture, you’ll need to stir once every minute or so.
By following these simple rules, you should be able to get beautiful, golden-brown mushrooms.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.