Sharp tools can be fun.
Take, for instance, this fine heavy duty professional mandoline that my aunt got us for a wedding present.
That’s the kind of wedding present I can get into.
No, it is not a medieval torture device, but a lean, mean potato slicing machine. It even comes in a super sinister looking hard black travel case.
What is one to do with such a fine tool?
Well, for one, try not to slice my darn fingers off. Holy moly, I swear I am not to be trusted around a mandoline. Yes, it comes with a safety thing that you attach to the vegetables to slide them down the slippery slicey slide of death. Perhaps it knows I’m slightly afraid of it, or that I’m an easy target. I know one thing. I’m not going to do anything to piss this bad ass mandoline off.
The best thing to do with a mandoline, besides being extremely careful with it, is to thinly and evenly slice root vegetables so they can be smothered in cheese and cream and turned into a gratin.
Gratins are yummy. They are. Yes, they contain copious amounts of cheese and cream. It’s true. But they make a darn fine accompaniment to any meal.
Take for instance, the lowly potato and the even lowlier parsnip. On their own, they’re at best boring white vegetables begging to be sexified. Turn them into a gratin and they are now thin little slices of deliciousness.
You can most definitely slice the potatoes and parsnips without a mandoline, but take extra care to slice them very thinly and evenly so they all cook at the same time. I’d argue that cutting them with a knife is even more dangerous than using the menacing mandoline. However, with a steady hand, it is possible.
I tried to lighten this gratin up by using both cream and 2% milk instead of all cream. It probably doesn’t help much. But it doesn’t hurt much either, so I’m going to stick with it.
Scalloped Potato and Parsnip Au Gratin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8″ slices (on a mandoline or by hand)
1 lb. parsnips (approx. 2 large), peeled and sliced into 1/8″ slices (on a mandoline or by hand)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the cream, milk, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic. Heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until hot, but not simmering.
Meanwhile, in a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish, layer the first layer of potatoes like shingles on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the Gruyere cheese. On top of the cheese, layer the parsnips in the same manner as the potatoes. Sprinkle again with the Gruyere.
Add the final layer of potatoes as before. Gently pour the hot cream mixture over the vegetables, coming just up to the top layer. Sprinkle with the remainder of the Gruyere and the Parmesan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cheese on top has browned and the vegetables are fork tender.
Let cool 10 minutes before serving.