Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes à la Patty

Funny how it is with cookbook authors whose work I know and admire—the pages of their books get well-thumbed and splotched, and over time they're like old friends. For instance, I've never met Patricia Wells, but her books on country French cooking have inspired me for years, and continue to do so. I've even toured her house in France a few times, if only in the pages of her books and travel magazines. That pretty much means I know her well enough to call her Patty, right?

In her book Patricia Wells at Home in Provence (one of those with pictures of her farmhouse in France), she shares a recipe for scalloped potatoes with artichokes that doesn't have the usual cream-based sauce, but instead relies on the juices and fat from a leg of lamb roasted atop them to baste the potatoes to perfection. I found another version of the same technique, attributed to Ms. Wells, in Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso's The New Basics Cookbook, though that recipe substituted onions and tomatoes for the artichokes.

In my version, all I do is drizzle the sliced potatoes and vegetables with some wine and olive oil and it's just as rich and luscious as any creamed version. It makes a terrific side for dinner, with or without the meat roasted on top, and it pairs with chicken, pork, lamb, salmon or just about any other roasted meat you can imagine. Or not, since it's basically all vegetables, thus qualifying it as vegan!

I think Patty would approve, though, to tell the truth, she really seems like more of a "Patricia" sort to me.

Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks, Onions and Olives

1 clove garlic, halved
1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and cut in 1/2" slices
1 c. oil-cured olives, pitted and torn in half
4 medium-sized russet potatoes, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, 4-6 c.
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 c. white wine
1/3 c. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Rub the inside of 9" by 12" baking dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove. Discard garlic. Add half the potatoes, spreading them evenly across the bottom of the dish. Add half the sliced onions, then half the leeks in even layers. Scatter half the olives and oregano over the top. Salt lightly. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, onions, leeks, olives and oregano to make a second layer. Salt lightly. Drizzle the top with the wine and olive oil. Bake for 45 min. to 1 hour until top is browned and potatoes are tender. Serve.

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