At the risk of people believing I must be going steady with Melissa Clark, I am rushing this out in advance of the latest winter storm. Even though I just shared Melissa’s superb Pork Chop recipe the middle of last month, I could not resist posting this latest triumph from last Wednesday’s “A Good Appetite” column. This is stuck-in-the house, freezing-cold-outside food at its finest. It’s Melissa’s inspired combination of elements you find in a crisp potato gratin and in a cottage or shepherd’s pie. It’s cheesy, rich and come to think of it, gluten-free! It’s not the fastest dish in the world to cook which makes me think that if you’re going to be housebound for any length of time, it will be the perfect thing to prepare. It also has the great advantage of being a one-pot dinner. Well, that is unless like me and Melissa you feel it would look a whole lot better on a plate with a nice big green salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. So what changes did I make to Melissa’s original recipe? Don’t think I didn’t try to make the original....
Meat Mushroom and Potato Skillet Gratin adapted
from Melissa Clark in The New York Times
4-6 servings. Total Time 2 ½ hours. Active time considerably less.
4 garlic cloves
2 cups heavy cream or use Fat Free Half and Half, if you must.
2 thyme branches
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 pound ground lean beef
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1 cup thinly sliced onion
8 ounces Cremini Mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in halves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound russet potatoes (two large)
4 ounces Provolone or other melting cheese, grated (1 cup)
Crush and peel 2 garlic cloves. In a small pot over medium heat, combine cream, the crushed garlic, the thyme and 1/2 tablespoon sage. Bring to a simmer; cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain and cool.
While cream cools, heat oil in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and brown well, crumbling with a fork as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; transfer meat to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining meat, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Add onion and mushrooms to pan drippings (drizzle with oil if pan seems dry). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden, and the mushrooms have released some of their liquid… about 10 minutes. Peel and chop remaining 2 garlic cloves; add to pan with remaining sage. Return meat to skillet. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the Worcestershire and pepper to taste.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Layer half the potato slices to completely cover the meat. Season lightly with salt and pepper; top with half the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese. Spoon reduced cream evenly over top.
Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are very tender, 60 to 75 minutes. The illustration shows the skillet prior to its last 10 minutes or so in the oven where it turns golden brown as in the opening picture. Cool 10 minutes before serving.