Planning your Easter Brunch menu? Our family traditionally eats cheesy potatoes with ham. You know the side dish made of mini cubed potatoes with crushed Corn Flakes on top? 'Round these parts, the dish is called "Funeral Potatoes," since the ladies of the neighborhood all make up a pan when someone dies.
Since Easter is all about rebirth, what better reason to give this dish a new life as part of my Easter Brunch menu!
What's new? The cheese. Le Gruyere frommage!
Gruyere cheese is like no other cheese. It's created using cow's milk to form a hard, yellow cheese. One cheese maker describes its flavor as "distintive with notes of candied walnuts, dried fruit and spices." It's trademarked name and process of creation make it near impossible to imitate, although the two towns in the French and Swiss Alps named "Gruyere" both claim to have prize-winning cheeses.
What can you do with a cheese that's made from a specific species of cow, that's eaten a specific variety of grass grown only in the high altitudes of the Alps mountains, that's cured in a temperature range of a single degree (13-14 degrees Celsius) in order to simulate the temperature of a natural cave?
Quiches, fondues, soup (a la French onion soup) are yummy ways to bake Gruyere. You can also serve it cold on salads or as part of a cheese platter.
Here's a recipe for Gruyere Cheese Potatoes for your Easter Brunch or any meal when you want your guests to feel like royalty.*
Gruyere Cheese Potatoes Recipe
5-6 medium sized potatoes, your favorite variety
1-2 6-ounce packages of authentic Gruyere cheese, grated
1 leek, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cream
pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Give your potatoes a good scrub and slice thinly by hand or in a food processor with peels intact. Finely grate the cheese by hand or in a food processor.
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Rinse and slice leek bottom, using the stalk of the leek, but not the green tops.
In a 9x13 pan, using half of each ingredient, layer the potatoes, leeks and cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Pour up to 1/2 cup cream over the dish and top with a dash of salt if desired. Note: A Gruyere aged more than 6 months will have a saltier and stronger flavor than a younger Gruyere cheese, so additional salt is often unnecessary.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is golden and pan is bubbly. Potatoes will be fork tender.
*A 6-ounce package of Gruyere cheese costs more than the price of a movie ticket, so be sure to serve it to guests who will appreciate its yumminess. Now you know why those cows are treated like royalty too!
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Recipe provided by Ann Orton, my mom.