HERBED SCALLOPED POTATOES
Hi There & HAPPY EASTER!
For me, Easter dinner is not complete without Herbed Scalloped Potatoes.
So, today I’m sharing a recipe for Herbed Scalloped Potatoes that I got in an unlikely place: A castle in Spain.
A castle hotel that is, called Parador de Leon.
Can you believe that this beautiful Renaissance building of richly decorated stonework is a hotel? Well, it actually started its life in the 16th century as the San Marcos Monastery.
It is not difficult to imagine the chanting of monks echoing down through these magnificent archways.
I can also imagine the monks strolling these gardens after emerging from the beautiful cloisters that line the courtyard.
This type of hotel is not at all unusual in Spain. In fact, the Parador de Leon is part of a government-owned hotel system. The Spanish Paradors were set up by the government in 1926 as a way to both promote tourism and help the local economies. The idea also allowed for the restoration of dozens of Spanish castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. Many of the buildings selected to become Paradors are located in beautiful regions with few economic resources. So the income generated from operating these historical properties as hotels not only provides revenue to help in the restoration and upkeep of these national treasures, but it also promotes the local economy.
There is at least one Parador in each of Spain’s 50 provinces. So, when our family travels to Spain, we always stay in the Paradors.
While the properties vary in levels of opulence, many of them make you feel as though you are living like royalty. The Parador de Leon is one of the more luxurious in the chain, and has magnificent suites furnished with national treasures such as ancient tapestries, great works of art, and beautiful antique furniture like this 4 Poster bed that we slept in.
So, what does all this have to do with my recipe for Herbed Scalloped Potatoes? Well, fine food is a specialty of the Paradors and each features local cuisine at better prices than big city restaurants. So, one night Brad and I enjoyed dinner in the Parador’s beautiful refectory-style dining room where the monks used to take their communal-style meals.
I ordered a dish that came with the most delicious Herbed Scalloped Potatoes on the side. I swear they were so delicious I am sure the angels sang and the monks chanted for these divine Scalloped Potatoes. I have always loved Scalloped Potatoes but, could never make them as good as the ones I enjoyed in Spanish restaurants, where it is a common side dish. So I told the waiter how much I enjoyed them and asked if perhaps the chef would share his recipe. Low and behold, before we finished our meal, the chef appeared at our table and presented me with this recipe, typed on the hotel stationary, and in English, no less!
Curiously, he listed the ingredients without quantities and called them “Gratin” Potatoes despite the fact that they contained no cheese. So, I returned home, determined to make Scalloped Potatoes using this recipe as a rough guide. Since my husband likes his “Gratin” with cheese, I added Gueryère cheese to my recipe. Here is how I make them.: First, I add 3 cups of half & half to a small saucepan……
and I toss in 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
This week, my delivery from Abundant Harvest Organics included shallots, so today I am using shallots in my Herbed Scalloped Potatoes. You can also use garlic instead.
So, I diced 1/4 cup of my organic shallots and added them to the pot of half & half.
Next, I added 1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt and brought it to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the shallots to tenderize and the flavors of the fresh thyme to be extracted.
I was also thrilled to receive these beautiful organic potatoes in my CSA veggie basket this week. In Spain they use yellow potatoes for this dish. So I recommend using Yukon Gold potatoes as they have a smoother, creamier texture and are less grainy than Russet Potatoes.
Peel the potatoes, then, using a mandoline, slice 2 pounds of potatoes as thin as you can get them.
Then, generously grease a 11″ x 8″ baking dish with butter.
Arrange 1/3 of the sliced potatoes in the baking dish.
Remove the half & half from the stove, extract the thyme sprigs and pour 1/3 of the liquid over the potatoes.
Next, finely grate 6 ounces of Gueryère cheese……
and sprinkle 1/3 of the grated cheese over the potatoes.
I then grind some fresh pepper over the cheese……
and dollop on 2 tablespoons of cubed butter.
Then I repeat this process two more times, ending up with 3 layers in total.
Lastly, sprinkle on some fresh thyme leaves and the Herbed Scalloped Potatoes are ready to bake . Put them on a flat baking sheet and place them in the oven, preheated to 400º, and bake for about 1 -1/2 hours or until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.
Check the potatoes periodically while they cook. If they become golden brown before the potatoes are tender, cover the dish loosely with foil and continue cooking.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Parador de Leon photos via
- 3 Cups Half & Half
- 3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- ¼ Cup Diced Shallots
- 1-1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled & Sliced Very Thinly
- 6 Ounces Gruyere Cheese, Finely Grated
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- 6 Tablespoons Butter, Cubed
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Thyme
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Add half & half to a small saucepan with the fresh thyme sprigs and Kosher salt.
- Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
- Generously grease an 11" x 8" baking dish with butter.
- Arrange ⅓ of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, layering them in columns.
- Remove the sprigs of thyme from the half & half.
- Pour ⅓ of the half & half mixture over the potatoes.
- Sprinkle with ⅓ of the cheese.
- Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
- Repeat this process 2 more times, ending up with a total of 3 layers of potatoes & cheese.
- Sprinkle the top layer with 1 teaspoon diced thyme.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown.
- Check the potatoes periodically as they cook.
- If the potatoes are browned before they're tender, cover loosely with foil and continue cooking.
- When done remove from the oven and allow the potatoes to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
If you enjoyed this post, please help me spread the word by sharing it on your Facebook Page. You can “Like” my Facebook Page here.
If you enjoyed the photos, please “Pin Them” on your Pinterest page. You can follow my Pinterest Page here.
If you’d like to read After Orange County every time a new article is posted, please “Subscribe” to the blog using the Subscription Box above.
Do you Tweet? Please Tweet the word and follow my Twitter Page here.
All opinions expressed in this post are my own. All photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.
Thank you for visiting!