Seven Days of 60s Food: Potatoes au Gratin

This recipe is insane: the butter, the cheese, the carbs. It’s too much. It’s also delicious. And it’s Kit’s favorite way to eat potatoes in Star Dust.

baking dish of potatoes sitting on trivet

Au Gratin Potatoes

Adapted from Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook

4 baked potatoes, cooled and diced*

1 cup Mornay sauce

1/2 cup medium cream sauce

bitters, a dash

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

paprika

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the diced potatoes with the sauces and a dash of the bitters. Pour into a buttered 2 or 2.5 quart casserole dish and cover with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 40 minutes.

* I “baked” my potatoes in the microwave. Here are instructions for that. I also left the skin on (though I washed them thoroughly.) I suspect that Helen Corbitt would have peeled hers, but it’s up to you.

Mornay Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

1/2 pounds Cheddar cheese, shredded

~3 oz beer

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and then add the flour. Cook until bubbly. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute. Slowly add the cheese and once it is all incorporated, beat with a hand mixer until smooth. (Corbitt recommends 15 minutes; Elisabeth beat it for 5.) Add the beer a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Medium Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly stream in the milk, stirring until it’s smooth. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.

***

Because we had two cooks, Elisabeth made the Mornay while I dealt with the potatoes and then made the cream sauce. We used the cream sauce to lighten the Mornay–yes, this is the weird logic of this recipe–and then we stirred in the potatoes and transferred everything to a casserole dish and the oven. We even had enough of the sauces leftover to make mac and cheese.

If you were on your own, though, you could probably make a large batch of medium cream sauce, take out 1/2 cup (or maybe a bit more to be safe) and then use the rest to make Mornay with the addition of cheese and beer.

Regardless, this is decadent, over the top, and fit for astronauts.

Elisabeth and I were skeptical that the leftover potatoes would keep well, but I ate them for breakfast with eggs for days.

potatoes and eggs on a plate

(Yes, those are just egg yolks. My daughter has decided she likes to eat eggs for breakfast, but she only likes the whites. So I have to eat her yolks. I never claimed this was health food, y’all.)

Again, I’m grateful to Elisabeth Lane from Cooking Up Romance for her assistance.

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