No, I’m not talking about coffee or tea — I’m talking about a lighter, healthier Creamless Potato Gratin.
This past Sunday, I decided to use a beef roast from the freezer (bought on sale, of course!) to try out an easy recipe for Beef Burgundy (and it turned out YUMMY! It will be my next post). To go along with it, I decided to make some Creamless Potato Gratin as inspired by my Williams-Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook. I make it mine by leaving out the salt (no need for salt when you’re cooking in reduced-sodium stock or broth), leaving the potatoes unpeeled, and baking it for longer a longer time in the oven at a slightly higher temperature so that I don’t have to bother with boiling the broth/stock beforehand and pre-heating the oven.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap, bless their little eyes. 😉 Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, got so fed up with all the trash talk about potatoes that he went on a potato-only diet for two months — and lost 21 pounds eating 20 potatoes a day!
As Wikipedia tells us:
The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in potatoes are 4-O-caffeoylquinic (crypto-chlorogenic acid), 5-O-caffeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acids. A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium,phosphorus, iron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals.
In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage. The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.
Traditionally, potatoes gratin are heavy on cream, butter, and cheese — more an indulgent dish than a healthy one. In this simple, light, flavorful take on Potatoes Gratin, there’s no cream and the flavor comes from the broth or cooking stock you bake the potatoes in and the sprinkling of cheese you add at the end of the cooking time. It’s very easy to adjust the number of servings up or down, and you can alter the flavor of the gratin to suit you based on the broth or stock used — chicken, beef, or vegetable — and the type of cheese sprinkled on the top — Parmesan or Gruyere is recommended, but depending upon what else you’re serving with the potatoes, you could use another kind of cheese, such as sharp cheddar, mozzarella, Romano…use your imagination!
This dish is so easy, so yummy, and so healthy, you may never prepare Potatoes Gratin the more traditional way again!
But that’s okay — you can enjoy this no-calorie version of Cream. 😉 (Go on, take five minutes or so out of your day and enjoy — you know you want to!)
Creamless Potato Gratin (Number of servings depend upon number of potatoes)
- Desired number of potatoes (suggest baking potatoes)
- Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth or stock (2 to 4 cups, depending upon amount of potatoes…1 1/2 to 2 cups will take care of 2 or 3 good-sized baking potatoes; you’ll need 3 or 4 cups for up to 6 potatoes)
- Coarse ground black pepper to taste
- Grated cheese (Parmesan, Gruyere, or other cheese) to taste (you need just a sprinkling, so 1/4 to 1/2 cup will likely do)
- Peel potatoes, if desired; I prefer to scrub my potatoes well and leave the peeling on (more nutritious and flavorful, as well as faster and easier!). Slice cross-wise into 1/4″ or so slices.
- Lightly butter a shallow (2″ or so deep) baking dish (I used a 11″X7″ for 2 large potatoes; use a 13″ X 9″ for up to 6 potatoes).
- Lay potato slices into dish, sprinkling each layer with desired amount of coarse ground black pepper.
- Pour in broth or stock to just cover potatoes (note: top layer of potatoes won’t be immersed in stock, and that’s okay).
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil or tight-fitting oven-safe lid.
- Bake at 400F (no need to pre-heat) until potatoes are tender and most of the broth/stock is absorbed (about 50 to 60 minutes; any remaining stock/broth should be bubbling). If potatoes are tender but too much broth/stock remains, gently remove the broth/stock with a cooking spoon. (I had a bit too much stock remaining in my potatoes, and I added it in to the Beef Burgundy.)
- Remove foil and sprinkle potatoes lightly with cheese. Place under broiler for a couple of minutes to melt cheese, OR bake at 425F/450F until cheese melts (about 5 or 10 minutes).
- Refrigerate leftovers.