Gratin of Potatoes with Sauerkraut by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan
March 5, 2020
This recipe began with an idea about using a new product on our produce shelves: Cleveland Kraut sauerkraut!
It’s not just any ordinary sauerkraut. No indeed! It’s colorful, flavorful, crunchy and delicious.It’s cut thicker than most other krauts and comes in a variety of intriguing flavors: whisky dill, curry, garlic and spicy to name a few. It’s a live, fermented and unpasteurized probiotic product. All those ‘good for you’ attributes, currently making nutritional headlines. I’ve made a gratin of potatoes without cream and/or cheese. I wanted the sauerkraut to not be masked by dairy fat…but I did add a bit of smoked bacon to the dish and suggest that you serve the gratin with a side of kielbasa, or other smoked pork, beef or chicken sausage. I also used Yukon Gold potatoes. They are less starchy than an Idaho potato, but more starchy than a Red Bliss potato. They work well in a gratin and because they will keep their shape when baked. Choose larger potatoes to get a better slice. And as an added time-saver, they really don’t need to be peeled before using, the skins are very thin and tender. Just wash and dry the potatoes before slicing. (It is safer to slice a dry potato, it’s less likely to slip under the knife.)
- Prep: 1 hr
- Cook: 1 hr 10 mins
- Yields: 12
For the ‘roux’ and sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef or chicken (or vegetable) stock, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1/8th teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed caraway seed
½ teaspoon dehydrated onion flakes/pieces
Fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large Spanish or white onion (about 12 ounces, peeled weight), peeled and cut in half
1-2 slices smoked bacon, well-chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to your taste)
1-pound package of Cleveland Kraut, I used ‘Red Beet’ for the color contrast
This sauce will be used to spread between the layers of sliced potatoes. The addition of flour will give the sauce some ‘body’ and keep the finished dish from being too soupy. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When completely melted, slide the pan off the heat and add the flour all at once. Whisk until smooth. Add the 3 cups of whatever stock you are using. Whisk thoroughly until all the flour/butter has dissolved into the liquid and is smooth (no lumps). Put the pan back over low-medium heat and stir constantly until the sauce comes to a simmer. Add the dried thyme, caraway seed, dehydrated onion and a pinch of kosher salt along with a few twists of the pepper mill. Let the sauce cook on very low heat for about 10 -15 more minutes. Just at a bare simmer. Keep whisking every couple of minutes to prevent sticking. Taste. Whisk in the teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Taste again. Adjust seasonings. Set aside. (it will thicken more as it cools.) Fold the bacon piece(s) into thirds and cut across the folded bacon, cutting thin 1/8th inch slices. (Cold bacon will slice more easily than warm bacon.) Add to a new sauce pan along with the 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over low heat until bacon has rendered. (I did not render the bacon to the ‘crispy’ stage, but this is your preference.)
Remove pan from heat momentarily. Slice the onion halves across into 1/8th inch thin slices; that is with the grain and NOT into ‘rings’. Add the onions to the bacon-butter pot. Add a pinch of salt and cook the onions until they have softened and begun to caramelize (take on some brown color).
While the onions are cooking, rinse the kraut under cold running water and use your hands to squeeze out excess water.
When the onions and bacon have softened and caramelized a bit, add the squeezed kraut to the pot. Stir well to combine. Let cook over medium-low heat for about 5-8 minutes. Taste. It probably won’t need salt, but a little bit of pepper might be a savory addition. Set aside.
To build the gratin:
5-7 each or approximately 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (on the larger side), washed & dried
your pepper mill with black peppercorns
Gratin dish: I used a 9x13 inch dish (ovenproof)
1 tablespoon softened butter (salted or unsalted)
Slice the potatoes by hand as thinly as you can. I used a plastic Japanese vegetable slicer which yielded consistent thin slices. Don’t fret, you can the slice potatoes by hand. It is helpful to slice a small piece off the bottom of each potato to give you a flat surface. This prevents the potato from ‘rockin’ and rollin’ as you are slicing it. (You’ll have more control over your slice.)
Liberally butter your baking/gratin dish. Begin by laying down slices of potatoes along the bottom of the dish. Overlap each piece slightly. Sprinkle lightly with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the prepared sauce over this layer, being careful to not disturb the layer of potatoes. Add a second layer of potatoes over the first layer. Repeat with salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of the reserved sauce spooned gently over the potatoes again.
Spoon the reserved onion-cabbage mix over these potatoes. (This is the third layer—the ‘filling’.)
Spread the kraut-onion-mixture carefully over the potatoes. Again, trying to not disturb the layers of potatoes underneath.