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caraway potato fennel gratin

adapted from Ina Garten’s potato fennel gratin

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (40g)
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly (120g)
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly (150g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed through a press (15g)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 medium russet* potatoes (850g before peeling, 800g after)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons caraway** + more for sprinkling
  • 2 cups heavy cream (460g)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar, or another hard cheese*** (225g), divided into 2 cups and 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) convection.
  2. Heat a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet**** over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the olive oil, followed by the fennel, onion, and garlic. Salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon), and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  3. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/8-inch thick), and place in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add the cooked fennel/onion (but don’t wash the pan!), black pepper, caraway seeds, heavy cream, 2 cups of the cheese (180g), and salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon, depending on your cheese’s saltiness). Mix together.
  5. Move back to the skillet, smooth out the top, and press everything down a bit so it’s mostly submerged in the cream.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the gratin, plus an extra pinch of caraway seeds.
  7. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through in the center of the dish, and the whole thing is golden-brown and bubbly. If you’re not using convection, it may take a little longer to bake through.

Notes

* Feel free to use yukon gold instead.

** You can find caraway in most supermarket spice aisles. It’s the thing that gives seeded rye bread its distinctive flavor.

*** Good choices here are gruyère, cheddar (pictured), or jarlsberg. You can use some parmesan blended with another cheese (don’t use more than 1/3 parmesan, and don’t oversalt it). You want something melty, a bit salty, and sharp, but not way too stretchy or high moisture.

**** You don’t absolutely need a cast iron skillet to make this recipe. If you have another oven-proof deep-sided sauté pan, that’ll work instead. Or if you don’t have an oven-proof pan that’ll fit everything, you can cook the onions and fennel on the stove, and then move everything to a greased casserole dish to finish in the oven.