Whoever first concocted this dish certainly had little (if any) regard for the waistlines of those who were about to indulge in this rich-beyond-belief potato dish, but I doubt that there were many complaints at the table. It’s another of my family’s very favorite holiday side dishes. We often serve it with some equally decadent treatment of beef tenderloin, replete with a perfectly wonderful rich sauce. What can I tell you? We tend to pull out all the stops for holidays. If you are similarly inclined, give these a try. They are, in a word, incredible; a first-rate accompaniment to just about any holiday feast.
I originally found the recipe many years ago in a Junior League Cookbook, but when recently googling my way around the internet to see where else it might have been mentioned, I learned that the original came from an article in the New York Times, as far back as 1989, as I recall. So, credit here goes to both sources.
Serves 6 to 8
POTATO, SHIITAKE AND BRIE GRATIN
The Junior League Centennial Cookbook
6 good-size red new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 pound fairly firm Brie, rind removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. chopped thyme
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut the potatoes into slices about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place them in a large bowl of cold water and soak for 30 minutes, changing the water twice. Drain and pat them dry.
Arrange two oven racks so that one is in the bottom third of the oven and the other is in the middle. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Butter a shallow 10” gratin dish or glass baking dish.
Thinly slice the shiitake caps. Cut the Brie into small cubes. Layer a third of the potato slices in the dish. Lay half the shiitakes and half the cheese evenly over the top. Liberally season with salt and pepper. Add another third of the potatoes and top with remaining shiitakes and Brie. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange remaining potato slices on top. Combine the cream, garlic and thyme and pour over the potatoes, pushing down so that all the liquid is absorbed and spreading the garlic and thyme evenly. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes.
Combine the Parmesan and bread crumbs and season the mixture with more salt and pepper. Remove the foil from the pan and sprinkle the crumbs over the potatoes. Place the pan on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer, until the potatoes are very tender and the top and bottom are crusty and dark brown.