i grew up with a very traditional christmas meal, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and all the casserole dishes you can think of. for years and years i begged my mom to make and remake the same dishes every single christmas, because you know tradition and they were mighty good too. you can't go wrong with the classics, especially during the holidays.
but fast forward to a couple of years ago when i decided that i wanted to branch out of the regular "traditional" christmas dinner menu and spice it up with some new dishes and some not very traditional dishes. one year i even made turkey meatballs instead of a turkey and let me tell you besides taking a whole lot less time to make they were devoured pretty darn quickly at the table and i don't think anyone really missed the traditional sliced turkey (well at least not that they told me haha). you can find that meatball recipe here, sage, thyme & apple turkey meatballs + a soy, maple glaze they have all the holiday flavours.
this year i wanted to create a potato dish that could stand the test of time, both with its flavour and simplicity. honestly, i am not the biggest fan of mashed potatoes, i find them kinda boring most of the time, unless of course they are super jazzed up. but i also wanted something out of the ordinary for my potato dish this year, no mashing involved out of the ordinary anyway.
potato gratin is nothing new, i do realize that but my method here has the cream mixture sit overnight with all the flavourings added, giving it a hefty burst of shallot, thyme & garlic for the taste buds to enjoy once all cooked up together. plus half the dish is made the night before so another tick off your christmas day cooking list!
i simmer the cream with thyme, garlic salt and pepper, let this rest in the fridge overnight and then caramelize some leeks with white wine and some extra thyme, pour this over the thinly sliced potatoes and voila potato gratin that i am sure will make your christmas menu for years to come. the potatoes are done super thin and layered diagonally so that each piece of potato is covered in cream and gets slightly crispy at the top. its that perfect combination of soft and crunchy. before taking the potatoes out of the oven they are covered in parmesan, which is broiled to perfection. they are heaven guys, literal heaven. paul said they are his most favourite potatoes i have ever cooked!
here is a sneak peek at the rest of my christmas dinner menu:
bacon wrapped dates with balsamic glaze & goat cheese
honey roasted carrots & brussel sprouts
soy & maple glazed roast duck
vanilla panna cotta + bourbon pecan honey caramel (recipe coming in time for new years)
there you have it a christmas menu a little out of the ordinary but still mouthwatering and covers all the classic basis just upping their anti up a notch with a touch of sophistication
white wine caramelized leek & thyme potato gratin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 cloves of minced garlic
8 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup parmesan
salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 325 degrees. for 45 minutes add cheese broil for 5-10 minutes
in a sauce pan add the heavy cream, minced garlic, salt, pepper and thyme sprigs. bring to a slight simmer then take off the heat and transfer to a heat proof dish and cool on the counter. once cooled cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
the next day:
take the cream mixture out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature.
meanwhile, using a a madeline or a really sharp knife thinly slice your potatoes. i don’t bother to peel my potatoes as i like the skin and the texture it gives but feel free to peel them if you prefer that. rub a oven safe dish with butter and a clove of garlic. fan the cut potatoes into the baking dish (i do them ratatloullie style so that every potato is touching the bottom and is exposed to the top)
thinly slice your leek (cutting the big green leafs off, tip: save these for stocks or bone broth!). in a cast iron pan on medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter. add the sliced leeks and caramelized for 20 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper half way through. keep stirring occasionally until the leeks are soften and browned. once they get nicely browned you can de-glaze the pan with the white wine, after about 1 or 2 minutes (or once the white wine has thickened up a little) remove from the heat.
place spoonfuls of the leeks in between the potato slices (almost like scalloped potatoes except these ones are kept upright), once all the leeks are throughout the potatoes take the sprigs of thyme out of the cream mixture and pour over the potatoes.
bake for 45 minutes or until the cream starts to bubble and the potatoes feel done with a fork. once cooked cover the potatoes with the parmesan cheese and place under broil for 5-10 minutes until it is golden and crispy. serve!