About The Saturday Chef

Midwest, United States
I am NOT a professional chef. I am what I affectionately dub a Saturday Chef—a weekend warrior of the culinary variety, fortified by the education I have gleaned from two high school cooking classes, the Food Network and my own gastronomical experiments. While I’m not ashamed to spend all day making bagels by hand, and proudly call myself a foodie, I’m not a food snob. I enjoy an Extra Value Meal as much as the next girl. My culinary escapades are still relegated to the weekends, but my love for cooking is stronger than ever, galvanized by more successes than failures, and the beautiful fact that the more I cook, the more people there are to feed. So please stay tuned for fun recipes, inevitable disasters and hopefully, a lot of good food.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Potato, Portabella, and Parmesan Gratin

When I was a child, I had a boundless imagination. It made being grounded fun, and punishing me next to impossible. As an adult and a writer, I actively nurture my imagination and my inner child. I like to laugh make up stories, and generally enjoy myself. On special days, I play with my food. Enter the Potato, Portabella and Parmesan Gratin.

This recipe takes a bit of time to assemble, so I treated it like a culinary puzzle picking the perfectly shaped piece of potato to create the layers. I then added the cheese and even tossed in some mushrooms. The result was a filling, decadent gratin that was as simple as it was flavorful, and served with a quick salad, you have a delicious (and meatless) dinner. And I even snuck mushrooms past my inner child.


Potato, Portabella and Parmesan Gratin
Adapted from Oriana Neri’s recipe

4 lb medium boiling potatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 to 2 ½ cups half & half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

7 oz finely grated parmesan cheese (3 1/2 to 4 cups)*

1/2 to 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and diced

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices with a food processor or an adjustable-blade slicer. Spread slices out on a large kitchen towel. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Dot bottom of a 3-quart shallow baking dish (13 by 9 inches) with half of butter and pour in 1/3 cup of dairy. Layer potatoes in baking dish, season lightly with black pepper.

Spread 1/3 cup half & half and about 1/4 of cheese between layers. Drizzle remaining cream over potatoes and dot with remaining butter. Season with black pepper and sprinkle a bit of extra cheese and any mushrooms you have left.

Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are very tender and top is browned, about 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

*Chef’s Note: I did use an imported Italian cheese from the cheese counter, but not Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the gratin was fantastic. Just use quality cheese, and you’ll be fine.


  1. Yum! I am obsessed with cheese and potatoes! This is like the perfect dish to cheer you up after you've had an annoying work day. Looks good!

  2. It really is. I actually want it now!

    Thanks so much.