I submit that it is impossible to take a "stunning" photo of gratin. I mean, everyone (I believe) can agree that cheese and potatoes are one of the most delicious combinations ever devised by man, but the advent of the camera has not done the gratin justice visually. Of course, I say this knowing that the New York Times (from which this recipe comes) has produced some sort of visual delight to make everyone ooh and ahh over the "photogeneity" of the beloved dish.
Ah well, ce la vie. This dish is indeed delicious and it even tries to up the gratin ante by sticking Swiss chard in (perhaps to give us the illusion that we are indeed eating "vegetables). For me, the poor chard was lost amongst the cheese and starch and so I would increase the amount if I were to be make it a second time, but believe me, I'm not complaining about the first run.
Prepare thy arteries to be clogged.
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1 pound Swiss chard leaves and slender stems, stems cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 small shallot, sliced
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 pounds (6 to 8 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
6 ounces grated Gruyère
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and place rack in the center. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; set a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the chard leaves until tender, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Squeeze them dry and chop roughly. Boil the diced stems until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well and add to chopped chard leaves.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic, shallot, thyme and bay leaf to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Strain out the solids and add the nutmeg.
3. Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds with a mandoline or sharp knife. Butter a 12- to 14-inch gratin dish. Assemble the gratin by layering the ingredients in this order: a single, slightly overlapping layer of one-third of the potato slices, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, one-third of the Gruyère, half the Swiss chard and one-third of the reduced cream. Repeat once, and then top with one more layer of potato, salt and pepper, and the rest of the Gruyère and cream.
4. Bake until the top is browned and the potatoes are fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.