Drew Belline's Big Daddy Potato Casserole

3 1/2 to 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup diced onion
3 sprigs fresh thyme
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups homemade chicken broth, heated
2 cups crème fraîche (available at Whole Foods and some specialty markets, or substitute 1 3/4 cup sour cream whisked with 1/4 cup heavy cream)
2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese (Belline prefers Grafton)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup thinly sliced chives
1 cup garlicky dry breadcrumbs

1. Place the diced potatoes in a large saucepot. Pour enough cold water over the potatoes to barely cover them. Add the onion, thyme, crushed garlic cloves, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, and a few grindings of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer; cook until barely tender but still somewhat firm. (Remember, you are going to cook them again.) Strain and cool to room temperature. Remove thyme sprigs.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the potatoes are cooking, place butter in a medium-sized saucepot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook until it begins to give off a nutty aroma, about two minutes. Slowly whisk in hot chicken broth, being careful not to create any lumps in the mixture. Raise heat slightly and continue to whisk until all the chicken broth is incorporated and sauce is thickened and bubbly. Whisk in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and crème fraîche. Fold the cooked potatoes into the mixture, along with the parsley and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, or two 1 1/2-quart dishes. Pour potato mixture into the dish, or dishes, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Place in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. (Sauce will thicken slightly as it stands.)

Check Out the full story at http://www.atlantamagazine.com/southernrecipes/sides/story.aspx?ID=1633344

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