Thursday, January 5, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes & Fennel

I realize that for those of you out there trying to turn over a new healthy-eating leaf this New Year my posting a ridiculously rich and carb-loaded casserole is not exactly helping your cause.  I'm hoping that having this dish on the other side of your computer screen versus sitting right in front of you makes it okay {smiling}.
Truth is, I do have some healthy January recipes on deck.  But before I went ahead with those, I wanted to sneak this one in.  I, for one, am a bit behind with getting started on my resolutions - at least the ones that involve me snapping out of the holiday indulging habits.

This year I hosted dinner at my house on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.  Both were small gatherings - which was nice.  I didn't have to go too bonkers with the food and my house is small, so intimate groups are my favorite.  When planning my Christmas meal I spotted this recipe from Bon Appétit.  I knew I wanted to make scalloped potatoes, but didn't know exactly what recipe I'd use.  One familiar, or a new one?
When I saw this version, using a mixture of russet potatoes and sliced fennel along with garlic and fresh rosemary - I was sold.

You may have noticed by now...I love fennel and have posted quite a few recipes here featuring it. Such as Fennel & Orange Salad, Edamame & Fennel Salad, Tiny Pasta & Pea Soup, and more recently this Couscous with Roasted Fennel & Toasted Almonds
While it does have a taste similar to black licorice, I don't think you necessarily have to be a fan of licorice in order to like fennel, as the anise flavor is more subtle.  It's especially subtle when you cook the fennel.  In fact, the rosemary used in these scalloped potatoes has such a strong presence that it does knock the fennel flavor out quite a bit. 
While the fennel is subtle in this dish, I still think it's a necessary factor in the overall end result and because of this, I wouldn't want to leave it out.  The flavor of these scalloped potatoes is unlike anything you've probably ever tried.  It has many layers yet everything balances out so well.
I love scalloped potatoes in general, but I really love these.  So much so I polished off whatever was leftover on Christmas later on that evening...just the plastic container, a fork and me.  And because it was Christmas, I didn't have one shred of guilt about it either.
Since they were such a big hit the first time around, I decided to make them again a week later - for New Year's Eve.  I also wanted to blog the recipe, so making them again for guests was a better idea than making them again for no one in particular - only to end up eating the whole thing myself.  
I decided to have my little guy help me out with the recipe.  While we were prepping and measuring, I was also taking photos and doing a dozen different things and because of this an extra cup of cream ended up in the mix.  It was quite the bummer, because while they were still good - they weren't knock my socks off good.  The extra cream made everything too soupy and it was too bad I didn't realize it until after the fact and after any chance to fix it had passed.
It just goes to prove that I have screw ups in the kitchen all the time.

Scalloped Potatoes & Fennel

Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 2009 {recipe written by Josie Le Balch}
Serves 12

4 cloves of garlic {peeled & smashed}
4 2" long sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 bulbs fennel {fronds attached}
3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch casserole dish with butter.  Scatter the smashed garlic and rosemary sprigs across the bottom of the dish; set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, salt and white pepper.  Wash and peel the potatoes {once peeled, place the potatoes into a bowl of water to prevent browning}.  Using a mandoline, or V-slicer, slice the potatoes into 1/8" rounds.  As you work, place the sliced potatoes into the cream mixture and toss to coat. 
3.  Trim the stalks from the fennel bulbs and remove the fronds.  Coarsely chop the fronds; set aside.  Slice the fennel bulbs in half, remove the cores, then slice very thinly on the mandoline {1/16"}.  Arrange half of the fennel slices evenly over the bottom of the casserole.  Remove roughly half of the potatoes from the cream mixture and arrange over the fennel.  Repeat this process once more with the remaining fennel and potatoes.  Pour the cream mixture over the casserole and dot the top with the cubed butter.
4.  Cover the casserole loosely with foil {try to tent the foil slightly so it's not in direct contact with the potatoes} and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is deep golden brown in spots.  Let the scalloped potatoes rest for 15 minutes before serving.  If desired, garnish with the chopped fennel fronds.
To Make Ahead: You can bake the scalloped potatoes several hours in advance.   Let them cool completely at room temperature, cover the casserole with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.  To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil {use the same foil you originally used, if possible}.  Heat for about 20 minutes, or until heated all the way through.

Click here for the printable recipe.


Alicia said...

Yum! You are right though, I'm glad it's on my computer screen and not right in front of me. I love scalloped potatoes but I'm watching carbs again. I lost 23 lbs last year and gained back 10 during the holiday :-(

Looks good!

Heidi @ Food Doodles said...

These look fantastic! I love scalloped potatoes and those golden edges are calling me :D The fennel sounds especially good!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

Ooooh Katie I love fennel too! Raw, roasted or grilled... but bake with potatoes? Uhhh yes please! I'm so excited about this recipe!!

Joanne said...

I love fennel cooked but HATE it raw. Thankfully, it's cooked in this recipe because I'd love to try it! Resolutions notwithstanding :P

Zee said...

That looks super good and I am sure fennel would give plain potatoes a great twist. Don't worry we all have screw ups in the kitchen all the time but extra cream sounds good to me ;)

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

I've been on a fennel kick lately and this is calling my name!

Stash said...

hmmm, fennel gratin

I like how there's no cheese involved. May have to make this sometime in the near future.

Post a Comment