I am about to tell you about the single best culinary bargain in the history of the world. Yes, that’s right. The history of the WORLD. It is in connection with making Julia Child’s Scalloped Potatoes, which we did for Christmas Eve supper and which were absolutely delicious and a cinch to make.
The recipe calls for slicing the potatoes 1/8-inch thick. If you do not have an expensive mandoline, you will balk at the idea of slicing 2 pounds of potatoes 1/8-inch thick. Who would go to the trouble of doing that? Just buy your box of Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes and be done with it. But no! These are so much better than a box and all you need is this:
It is the Famous Feemster and you can buy it at Sears for just $8.50. It cuts vegetables in nine different thicknesses and I can tell you it lasts at least half a lifetime because I’ve had mine since the mid 1970s. I cannot believe nobody’s ever heard of this thing because it is so dang useful and so cheap. And it works. The blade has never lost its edge. It is not “as seen on TV.”
The potatoes are worth it even if you don’t have a Feemster or a mandoline. I don’t have stock in this company. I don’t even know who Mr. Feemster was. Or Mr. Feem. Whatever. But he made a great product. Eat the potatoes. Buy the Feemster.
Julia Child’s Scalloped Potatoes (Gratin Dauphinois)
2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 clove unpeeled garlic
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
1 cup boiling milk or cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8-inch thick. Place in cold water.
Rub the baking dish with cut garlic. Smear the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel. Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish. Divide the salt, pepper, cheese, and butter in half over the potatoes.
Arrange the remaining potatoes over the first layer and season with remaining salt and pepper. Spread on the rest of the cheese and divide the butter over it. Pour on the boiling milk.
Set the baking dish in upper third of preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, the milk is absorbed, and the top is a golden brown.