This is a story that some readers may already know, but on my second date with my husband, it was a rainy September day and instead of heading out into the city of New York, he asked me if I instead would like him to cook me a “Euro-trash” dinner.
I’m not really sure what constitutes a “Euro-trash” dinner but I do know that for his gratin dauphinois, he bought sour cream instead of heavy cream of which I quickly noticed and saved the day(te). I’d never had homemade gratin before, just some scary wannabes at a Penn State dining hall years before and considering that I did not know any French, I decided to always call the dish the simple name of, “cheesy potatoes.”
Now that the warmer weather is less and less, I am craving warmer dishes so I figured what better way to use French kale than in a traditional French dish? Et voilà, Gratin au Chou Plume. Yes, just this time I will refer to kale as chou plume because it just adds a nice ring to the recipe.
1 bunch of kale leaves; you can de-stem if you choose
6-8 medium sized potatoes; if organic, no need to peel
Gruyère or Beaufort cheese; shredded (I found buying a 1.5 cm thick piece was sufficient)
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 shallot, diced
2 thyme sprigs (or a Tsp of dried thyme if you do not have fresh)
1 bay leaf (fresh if possible)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
2. In a pot of boiling hot water, use thongs and take the kale, leaf by leaf and lightly steam for about 5-10 seconds. Place leaves into a pile on plate or cutting board as you continue to lightly steam each one.
3. When the leaves are finished, you can place each leaf into a bowl of ice-cold water but given that ice is hard to find in France, I just ran the pile of leaves under cold water.
4. Ring out the kale leaves and then pull apart into bite-size pieces that will be easy to layer into the gratin.
5. Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) size pieces.
6. Assemble the cream-sauce. Add the cream, shallots, bay leaf, thyme and garlic to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. When finished remove the solids or if you want, leave the shallot and garlic for added flavor in the gratin.
7. In a gratin dish, layer the potatoes, kale, shredded Gruyère/Beaufort cheese, and cream sauce until the dish is full. Finish with a layer of cheese and dusting of salt/pepper.
8. Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes.