Thinly sliced potatoes, cream, Gruyere and a little pear! Yes, this potato gratin is a perfect potato side dish for many meals and is deliciously different.
Why you'll love this potato gratin recipe
The delicious combination of cream, potatoes and Gruyere that makes a "gratin" is pretty much potato perfection, in my opinion. That said, if you want to try something just a little different (but equally delicious), try adding some pear to your gratin!
I first experienced pears with potatoes in this pear potato mash. And oh my, it was a flavour revelation! It's the sort of flavour that you wouldn't know what it was, if you didn't know what it was. It's a sweeter, fruity note, but not one that shouts at you.
I love this delicious potato gratin next to simple grilled or roasted meat, sausage or poultry.
Potatoes - start this gratin with yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold. You can peel or not, as you like.
Pear - start with Bosc pear that is ripe, but still firm (firm enough to run through a mandolin or to slice thinly). Bosc pears are often my first choice, as they tend to stay nice and firm, even when ripe. You could use other pears, as long as they are firm enough to slice thinly. Again, you can peel or not, as you like.
Gruyere - yes, Gruyere is expensive, but it is so worth it :) You only need a small amount for this gratin, so I do recommend using Gruyere, if you can. I think a decent substitute is Emmental or Jarlsberg, which may be less pricey, but would deliver the same nutty flavour.
Heavy Cream - this would be the 35% b.f. heavy, whipping cream. I highly recommend heavy cream, both for the richness it brings, but also to ensure your sauce has a nice consistency. If you have no option but to use a lighter cream, I would stir a teaspoon of cornstarch into it before pouring onto the potatoes, to aid with the thickening. I do not recommend milk of any variety here.
- A mandolin makes short work of this dish and I would recommend, for best results, as well. That said, you can certainly just us a sharp knife to thinly slice the potatoes and pears. Keep the slice thickness the same between the potatoes and pears and keep in mind that if your slices are thicker, the dish may take longer to cook through.
- Boiling the potato slices does make an extra step, but it does accomplish a couple of things. First, boiling the slices in generously salted water seasons them nicely. Secondly, pre-cooking the potato slices cuts the cooking time of the gratin considerably vs just starting with raw potatoes.
- While potato gratins such as this one often use garlic to infuse the cream, I found the garlic too strong in this one. It over-powered the pear. So I prefer it without garlic myself.
- Salt is an important ingredient in any potato dish, but is especially critical with this dish. As the pear adds a touch of sweetness to the dish, it's important to balance it with a bit more salt than usual. I like to add salt as I build the gratin, and I generously salt the water to boil the potatoes, but sometimes, a little sprinkling of a nice finishing salt on the top is a nice addition, as well.
- Finally, it's always tempting to add just a little more cheese, but in this case, I've found that less is more. As Gruyere has a very distinct and stronger flavour, it can easily overwhelm the delicate pear flavour, so a lighter hand it just right here.
Not sure about the pears? No worries! Simply replace the pear with more potatoes and enjoy this one as a straight up potato gratin.
Pear, Gruyere and Potato Gratin
- 1 1/4 lbs. yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, about 4 medium
- 1 large Bosc pear, or 2 if smaller
- 1/3-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f., as needed
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch nutmeg
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded, DIVIDED
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, then season generously with salt.
- Prepare potatoes: You can peel the potatoes or not, as you like. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the potatoes 1/16 - 1/8-inch thick (1/16-inch thick is very easy to do with a mandolin. If cutting by hand, just slice as thin as you possibly can). Add potatoes to boiling water and boil 3 minutes (if slices are thicker, boil an extra minute, for 4 minutes). Remove to doubled-up paper towel, then pat the top of the potatoes dry. Let cool while you proceed with the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Prepare the pears: You can peel the pears or not, as you like. I like to cut them in half, from stem end to bottom. I'll usually just cut off the thin top, then scoop out and discard the core. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the pears 1/16 - 1/8-inch thick slices (slice the pears the same thickness as you potato slices). Set aside.
- Assemble the gratin: Lightly grease a small gratin pan (mine shown here is about 7x10-inches. Spread about 1/2 of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Brush potatoes with about 1/2 of the butter, then season with some salt and pepper. Top with 1/2 of the Gruyere cheese, then drizzle with 1/2 of the cream. Top with the pear, then with the remaining potatoes. Brush the remaining butter onto the potatoes, then season top with salt and pepper. Pour over the remaining cream. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere over-top.
- Bake uncovered in preheated 375F for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and the potatoes are tender. Let stand 10 minutes to set before serving. Add some finishing salt to the top before serving.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.