Luxuriously Creamy Potatoes with Comté Cheese.
Whenever I’m lucky enough to grab a big wedge of Comté cheese I start thinking about ways to use it, besides eating it out of hand. It’s in my top 3 of favorite cheeses and this time I chose to make potatoes au gratin. There are many different ways to do this and I’ve made a lot of them over the years.
This time I chose a technique I like that requires little time in the oven. Instead, the potatoes are first cooked in a pot on the stovetop with milk, cream, a whole onion, a little garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. By cooking them until they’re almost tender the starch in the potatoes combines with the liquid and becomes a thick and creamy sauce consistency.
I then simply spoon half of the potatoes into my baking dish, cover with a layer of the sauce, half the cheese, and repeat the layers. After only 30 minutes in the oven, they’ve browned nicely and are at the perfect creamy consistency.
I’ve recently tried dried long pepper for the first time. What an amazingly fragrant spice this is. It has the bite and heat of black pepper, but it’s much more complex. There are also touches of sweet spices in the flavor and aroma. I thought it would be great here because I was already using a little nutmeg and thought the long pepper would blend with it to compliment the Comté perfectly. Of course, Comté isn’t the only cheese that would work well here. Gruyère or any similar type cheese would be delicious, too.
Another nice touch was to drizzle a couple teaspoons of hazelnut oil over the potatoes after they had come out of the oven. The heat from the potatoes opened up the nutty flavor and aroma of the oil. I wish I could adequately describe how wonderful this dish smelled.
But the proof was in the eating. I consider potatoes this rich and creamy to be extremely luxurious. If it were up to me I would eat a helping of these with a brightly dressed bitter greens salad and call it very well done. Others in my family need some meat to go with it, so a simply grilled pork tenderloin was also served. I don’t make these potatoes often, but when I do it feels festive. They’re worthy of a celebration meal. Truly melt-in-your-mouth scrumptiousness.
As an added bonus, these potatoes also reheat beautifully. But if you’re in the mood for something almost sinful, cut the cold potatoes into big squares and fry them up in a nonstick skillet with a little butter until they’re heated through and crisp on the outside, flipping them once. Yeah, they’re ridiculously good.