Flemish cuisine has a split personality. It's part French and part Belgian. The food is delicious trencherman fare and the regional drink is beer. Parisian's cook with wine, the Flemish prefer beer. While the food of Flanders and Picardy lacks the finesse of other regions, it's not without sophistication and it's layered flavors are delicious. The bitter aftertaste that's ascribed to much of the regions cooking is really due to a poor choice of beer. In an effort to make a perfect carbonnarde, I've tested lots of beer. I discovered one that's perfect for cooking. It's O'Doul's Amber Non-Alcoholic Brew; it can be found everywhere for centimes on the dollar and, because it's non-alcoholic, it can be used by folks who might normally have to bypass a recipe because of its alcohol content. Beer is an important part of today's recipe. It adds a distinct flavor to the potatoes. I define a potato gratin as scalloped potatoes made without milk and I think I'm close to being correct. Today's potatoes are flavored with flat beer and a little butter, so we're going to call it a gratin. It's less rich and, I think more flavorful, than old-fashioned scalloped potatoes. Men love this.
Potato Gratin a la Flamande
1 8-ounce yellow onion, halved, then finely sliced
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup flat beer (i.e. O'Doul's Amber Non-Alcoholic Brew)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Black pepper, coarsely ground
Optional garnish: chopped parsley
1) Preheat oven at 425F. Spray bottom and sides of a deep baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2) Alternate layers of onions and potatoes in casserole. First layer should be onions, last layer should be potatoes. Lightly salt and pepper layers as their built.
3) Combine beer and brown sugar in a small bowl. Pour over potatoes. Dot top of potatoes with butter.
4) Cover dish and place in oven. After 10 minutes reduce oven thermostat to 375 degrees F. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes longer. Remove cover, pour cream over potatoes and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if using. Yield: 4 servings.
I'm sending this entry to Cathy at Noble Pig for the May Potato Ho Down.