I broke out my iron skillet (best gift EVER). Let me interrupt my food talk for just a second to tell you about an iron skillet. It's pretty much the most invaluable tool in my kitchen. Before I got married my mom asked me what she could get me as a gift ... something I really really wanted? Well, I wanted an iron skillet. NOT A NEW ONE! EW, heck no! I wanted a well seasoned one that had been cooked with for years, preferably one in our family. My mom, being the wonderful woman she is gave me one of hers! Yup, that's what mom's do. They give you their stuff-the stuff they love but you want. They just give it to you because they love you! THANKS MOM!!! Usually, I'm all about wanting new stuff (I can be bratty that way) but when it comes to an iron skillet you really don't want a new one unless you're into seasoning it yourself. Now, you may read several articles or even blog posts about how easy it is to season a skillet. Although these posts are true and helpful there is nothing like a skillet that's been used and well seasoned for years. You just can't get that from doing it yourself a few times. Plus I'm not really into trying, it's much easier to just get a used one :) My skillet was my mother's (she got it when she first got married to my dad, over 30 years ago) and before she had it, my great aunt had used it. My skillet has history, sentimental value, it's well seasoned, AND it produces great flavor and food :) It can also be used as a weapon if someone tries to break into your home ;)
Okay, back to the food....I didn't have much to work with because like I said-No planning had been done. I saw a bag of potatoes in the pantry, sitting by my skillet and just like that this potato gratin was born. It's nothing fancy but it's good and satisfying and so very comforting.
6 russet potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch (use a mandoline if you have one)
3-4 tbsp butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 cups milk
salt & pepper
dash of Cayenne pepper
1/2-1/3 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare iron skillet by rubbing with butter all around the sides and the bottom
In a small saucepan bring milk to a simmer, add garlic and salt and pepper and sit aside.
Toss potato slices with a little salt and pepper cayenne pepper.
Place a layer of potatoes in skillet, overlapping them. Repeat layers 2 more times or until you've used all your potatoes or skillet is full.
Pour enough heavy cream to come up just below the top layer of potatoes.
Cover skillet with foil and bake for about 1 hour or until potatoes are fork-tender.
Increase oven temp to 425 degrees F and remove foil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until top is slightly brown then add the rest of the heavy cream (coming over top layer of potatoes) and bake another 10-15 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbling.
*If for some silly reason you don't have an iron skillet you can use a simple baking dish as well. However, I highly suggest you run to your mom's or your granny's and take one of theirs ;)