Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Potato and Spinach Gratin - serves 6

I've spent the last week in the Ouachita Mountains in Beavers Bend, Oklahoma.  For those of you who haven't been, I highly recommend it.  We and another family rented a fantastic cabin where we did nothing but enjoy the fresh mountain air and just chill.  The men of the group really "chilled" while the mom's watched the kids and "tried" to chill.  We used to take "vacations".  Now that we have kids, it's clearly a "trip".  This was carefully analyzed by myself and my now, even closer girlfriend, over the course of the week.  The first few days were off to a rocky start when my daughter just could not have a good day to save her life.  After the threat of sending her home by way of the next passing broken down pick-up, things did get better.  The men are still fishing.... meanwhile, nothing a spiked lemonade won't fix or some wine.  Or, s'mores at the end of the day over an outdoor fire.  So, with intent on sending this recipe while I was there, well, my "chill" time overrode.  When your on a "trip" it's the s'mores (and it's accompaniments) that are more important.  That and pulling out ticks, while the men are still fishing.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually pour in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil, about 5 minutes. (The sauce may seem thin.) Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place a piece of wax paper directly over the surface to prevent a skin from forming and set aside.
Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices (a food processor does the job nicely); toss with garlic and spread evenly in the prepared dish. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and bake, uncovered, until the potatoes are very tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake until the top is golden, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

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