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Main-Dish Potato Gratin

Updated on May 13, 2014

An Easy, Decadent Potato Recipe for Home Cooks

Scalloped potatoes trigger many good memories for me, but here's my favorite: I'm sitting with my husband and in-laws in a charming, relaxed restaurant in Paris's Latin Quarter. With understated pride, our server lays out classic dishes: two hearty stews (pot au feu, boeuf bourguignon), steak frites, a lovely sole meuniere. A minute later he returns, with what seems like an extra twinkle in his eye: "Et voila, le gratin."

Potato gratin -- often called potatoes au gratin in the U.S. -- is a dish you'll find at any bistro in France. It is decadent--rich with cream, cheese, or both--and irresistible. "After years of gathering guests around the table," writes Patricia Wells in her excellent Bistro Cooking. "I've realized that potatoes are a sure-fire winner." Asserting that "you can never have too many" gratin recipes, Wells includes 7 in her book, including the one below. It's hearty enough to serve as a main course, with just a simple green salad on the side.

(mmmm, cheesy ~ photo: Bruno Girin via photopin cc ~ cropped for shape)


Happily, there are only a few:

1/4 lb. smoked ham, sliced medium

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 lbs. baking potatoes, such as russets

1/2 lb. gruyere cheese

nutmeg--preferably fresh grated, or dried if you don't have it

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) Preheat the oven to 375F.

2) Prep your ingredients: Peel the potatoes and slice them very thin. Grate the cheese. Cut the ham slices into 1-inch-wide strips.

3) Use 1 tbsp. of the butter to coat the inside of a baking dish, preferably ceramic or porcelain (but glass also works, if necessary).

4) Arrange half the potatoes in an even layer in the dish. Not sure it matters much how you do this, but I find it easiest to go in sort of a spiral.

5) Arrange half of the ham strips evenly over the potatoes. On top of the ham, layer half the cheese. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

6) Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients: Layer on the rest of your potatoes, then the ham, then the cheese. Season again with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

7) Cut the remaining 3 tbsp. of butter into bits. Dot the top of your gratin evenly with butter. (I know, I know..."decadent" is an understatement! You can diet tomorrow.)

8) Bake, uncovered, until the gratin is golden, about 50 minutes. Don't overcook (mine sometimes finish in 40-45 minutes...must have a hot oven), or the ham will dry out.

what more do you need?

I love to serve rich, cheesy dishes like this one with just some nice lettuce tossed in vinaigrette. To drink, Wells recommends a chilled red wine, but I don't think you can go too wrong here.

Make your scalloped potatoes sing...

Emile Henry cookware, made for 150 years in a small town in France's Burgundy region, has never failed me. Strong and beautiful, this versatile dish (not just for scalloped potatoes!) can go from freezer to oven and is safe for the dishwasher and microwave. It conducts and retains heat wonderfully and is a snap to clean.

I'm making gratin

for Halloween night.

For some reason, I always seem to crave yummy gruyere dishes for Halloween dinner. When the kids were babies and we needed only to receive trick-or-treaters, we'd have friends or family over for cheese fondue. Later I switched to quiche, with my better half contributing the crust (he's way better at pie dough than I am). This year? I'm making a gratin!

Although it's at its very best when baked immediately after assembly, I tested the recipe out as a make-ahead dish, and it worked just fine. I popped it in the fridge right after assembling, then baked it about 7 hours later. The baking time is just about right for taking the kids out trick-or-treating. We'll come back to a house fragrant with cheese, ham & potatoes. Ahhh...

Have I convinced you to try a gratin? What's your favorite way to make potatoes au gratin?


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love scalloped potatoes. Nice photos.

    • verymary profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: ain't that the truth! thanks for the visit!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      On a cold winters evening something really special happens to potatoes...they become even yummier then usual. I'm saving your recipe for one of those nights.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      8 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      This looks yummy! And I have some gruyere I recently bought from the "scratch-n-dent" cheese bin at Meijer.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • eccles1 profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm making your Potato Gratin soon !

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Lovely lens and well laid out.

      I love Potato Au Gratin but since it's quite fattening

      I haven't have it for ages.

      Maybe for my birthday as a treat.....


    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I love potato dishes and this one looks tasty for dinner. Thanks for your friendship, Mary. This lens is featured on:

      A RocketMoms Thanksgiving Day Feast :)

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      9 years ago

      Lovely presentation - yummy recipe, I love potato anything :) You made it to Rocket Mom's graduation - congrats!

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 

      9 years ago

      Great job on this, Congrats on Rocketmoms Graduation

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      9 years ago

      Yummy, this is one of my favorites!

      Congratulations on Graduating RocketMom!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      9 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I just love this dish- haven't had it in ages!

      Thanks for the reminder.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      Oh, this potato dish looks wonderful!

    • hlkljgk profile image


      9 years ago from Western Mass

      sounds yummy.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      9 years ago

      I love potatoes. It doesn't matter how they're fixed. I'll grab them before any serving of meat. I think that's due to growing up on a poor man's farm. Potatoes were used for a filler at every meal.

      Great lens


    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Tasty! I love the step-by-step instructions. Great Potato Recipe! Thanks! :)

    • seashell2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Looks delicious... lensrolling to my Cheesy Pasta Casserole lens! Great job!

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 

      9 years ago

      This looks great! I love your step-by-step pictures!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      9 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      This recipe sounds so delicious. And I love the way you set out the instructions step-by-step with pictures in this lens. 5* and I've added this lens to my recipe lens "Potholder Soup".

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Oh this is definitely a recipe I need to try! Thanks for sharing it with us

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love gratin - a shame I'm low carbing at the moment! You're right it's decadent and comforting and oh so delicious!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      9 years ago

      We really love a similar recipe at home. Your has a few differences and looks wonderful which means that the next batch will be in your honor! Looks so good I was looking for a fork :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Looks wonderful!!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      9 years ago

      Oh this is delicious. I'ts definately on my menu this week. I love anything that's both easy and yummy. This fits the bill for both. Thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Thanks for featuring my pumpkin bar lens. I love potato dishes. This looks Yummy! 5*


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