I’m hurt, again, and can’t go in the water, again, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the last few years of constant injury it’s that you really need to watch what you eat when you can’t exercise. I mean, I could jog or something, but that shit sucks. I’d rather just lay about and complain until my body is healed enough to do things that are fun.
Lucky for me, I’m a top notch cook. Not so lucky for me, the stuff I like to eat is terrible for you.
But not anymore. I recently learned from an internet article I skimmed but didn’t really understand, that potatoes don’t have any gluten in them. Which means they’re healthy, somehow. Great news, I can finally potato my way to that slim figure I so desperately crave.
I present “Rory’s Extra Healthy, Low Cal, No Carb, Gluten Free, non-GMO, Potato Pile with Saffron Gravy Heaven.”
Prep/cook time: 2 ½ hours
Serves: Theoretically, eight, if everyone is super polite and only takes a small portion. But it’s just me and the wife at home, and I made a plate for our landlady, and there were minimal leftovers. So, realistically, 3-4.
1 stick of Butter
10 Saffron threads (It’s super cheap at Trader Joe’s so I had my dad mail me a ton of this shit a while back.)
3 tablespoons flour
Two cups heavy whipping cream
1 bulb garlic
A bunch of Swiss cheese – grated
Even more Cheddar/ Jack/Whatever-they-have-on-sale-at-the-market-that-you-like – grated
Slightly less smoked Gouda – grated
First things first. Slice up your onions and garlic, toss them in separate pans with a healthy dose of butter, cook at medium-high until they’re soft-ish. Add a little salt and pepper to the onions, but don’t over-do it. You’ll be using plenty more of both before you’re done.
When they’ve softened, but still retain a little crunch, pull the garlic and onions off the heat and set them aside.
Now grab the taters and slice ’em up too. You want each slice to be about 1/4” thick. But, if you’re like me and don’t own a mandoline, the thickness of the slices will be all over the place. No big deal. Set them aside for now.
Now the fun part, making the sauce. It’s basically gravy, and, I know, gravy isn’t usually healthy. But this gravy is both vegetarian and non-GMO, so it totally is. And it’s organic too! Somehow.
Get a sauce pan up to low heat, then throw in your butter and saffron. As the butter melts use your spatula to crush the saffron threads. This will help give everything that beautiful saffron yellow color and make the dish fancy. You won’t be able to taste it, really, but who cares? Saffron! Make it a point to tell people you used it, otherwise there’s really no point.
When the butter is nice and melted, add 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and three tablespoons flour. Cook it all together on low heat until it’s a smooth slurry, free of lumps.
Now remove it from the heat and let the pan cool for a few minutes, Then pour in two cups of heavy whipping cream, and add a teaspoon of garlic chili paste. Return it to the stove, raise the heat to medium, and bring it to a low boil while stirring continuously.
Don’t stop stirring! If you do the flour will separate and it’ll be gross as fuck.
When it reaches a low boil, and it looks like the flour is mixed in, remove from heat. It’ll thicken and develop a skin as it cools. That doesn’t matter at all.
After it’s cooled a bit, make sure no one is watching, then eat a couple spoonfuls.
Now take out the cast iron dutch oven that I know you already own (if not, go buy one! Most useful pan/pot/je ne sais quoi in existence) and grease the fuck out of it with whatever oil you have at hand.
Put a layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dutch oven, salt and pepper to taste, then add some of those onions and garlic from earlier. Ladle on four or five good heaping tablespoons of your ever-so-healthful veggie gravy, then plop an assortment of your cheeses on top of that (go easy on the smoked Gouda. Too much will overpower everything else). Put another layer of potatoes completely covering the first, and repeat the spices/onion/garlic/gravy/cheese until you’re out of ingredients. You should be at four or five layers.
To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what order you add the ingredients, until the last layer. Cheese goes on last, it needs to be on top to create the awesome cheese skin we’re looking for.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (177 for the rest of the world, according to Google), and bake the dish, covered, for approximately 90 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a fork slides easily through to the bottom.
When the potatoes are cooked through, raise the heat to broil, remove the lid, and let it cook for another five minutes or so. Until the top layer of cheese is a nice brown, and chewy crispy.
Remove from oven and let sit for ten minutes. Don’t get super high while you cook and immediately eat a giant forkful, the cheese will stick to the roof of your mouth and burn the hell out of you.
And remember that cast iron retains heat for fucking forever, so definitely don’t get super high and then grab the lid bare handed ten minutes after you’ve taken it out of the oven.