Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: Potato Gratin

Another day, another set of leftovers to play with in my waffle iron: potato gratin!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go read my intro to my Waffling Leftovers series, and perhaps browse a few of those stories first ...

The big question: Potato Gratin: Will it Waffle?  Basically, but, even after many different batches and attempts, I think this is better left to traditional reheating techniques.

Attempt #1: April 2016

Parmesan Crusted Potato Gratin.
Here was the original dish, a decadent, totally delicious gratin of sliced sweet potatoes and red potatoes, absolutely loaded with heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese, with a little panko on top for crunch.

I don't think I need to tell you how amazing this was, just given those ingredients.  I obviously saved leftovers.
Leftover Potato Gratin.
It turned out to be really delicious cold as well, more like a potato salad.  And it reheated fine traditionally in a toaster oven too.

But I can't leave well enough alone.  Must. Waffle. All. The. Things.

If I can waffle mashed potatoes, I can waffle potato gratin, right?
Several minutes in ...
After a few minutes, I checked on it.

Uh-oh, things weren't looking good.  Half the grill plate was filled with oil.  Most of the gratin was stuck to the lid.  I immediately started thinking that I should have crusted it.  But I left it going ...
This side looks good!
When I checked a few minutes later, it looked ok, although not quite as crispy as I wanted.  I thought that the cheese would get all crispy like with pizza when it runs out into the waffle iron, and that the potatoes would get crazy crispy like a potato pancake.

So I left it a big longer.  The top side never advanced past what you see above, still never quite that crisp.
The other side? Not so much.
But, the other side?  When I pulled it out, I was devastated.  The bottom was totally burnt.  The last few times I used the waffle iron I was concerned that one side was hotter than the other, but this pretty much confirmed it.   Doh!
Note to self: don't just watch the top side, watch the bottom too!

Anyway, besides being burnt, it was still only a quasi-success.

The oil that ran out all over the iron was from the cheese, and the result was that all of the cheesy deliciousness was lost.  The potato did get crispy, and that was good, but, it was really just crispy potato waffles at this point, perfectly good, but a waste of gratin!

Perhaps I could try crusting it to help some of the cheese stay in.  I could certainly flip it halfway and avoid the burnt half.  But ... gratin reheats perfectly fine in a toaster oven, so I think this one may go the way of the shepherd's pie, and be better left to traditional methods ...

Attempt #2: April 2017

The first time I tried waffling leftover potato gratin, the results were a bit mixed.  My waffled creation didn't hold together well, the cheese all ran out, and I burnt it.  The resulting crispy potatoes tasted fine, but, I lamented the loss of the cheesy goodness the gratin original was.  I didn't experiment more, as it turned out, I actually liked that particular gratin leftovers better cold, and finished them off that way.
Waffling Leftovers: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
But I wanted to try again.  The results?  Not much different.
The Original: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
The original was dubbed "Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes", which, is basically the same as potato gratin, right?

I guess what makes it scalloped potatoes is the accents of onions, garlic, and thyme, nestled in with the sliced yukon golds, but, the hot bubbly cream and cheddar cheese certainly stole the show, as did the crispy cheese topping.

This was downright delicious when it was fresh.  The potatoes were cooked just right (not too mushy, not to firm), the top was crispy, and swoon, all that cream and cheese.  I adored it, and ate far more than my fair share.

Of course,  I saved plenty of leftovers.  At some level, I liked it even more cold, just like the previous version.  It is sorta like a creamy, cheesy, potato salad, and it just works.  I devoured tons of it that way. 
Layering into the Waffle Iron.
I didn't bother heating any up traditionally, as it was so good cold, I felt no need.  But of course I wanted to try *something*, so I decided to waffle some.

Given the cheese-running-out disaster last time, I mostly scraped out the cheese and cream, and, uh, just ate that part cold (highly recommended!).  I figured this way, I wouldn't need to follow my own advice to complicate things and crust it, and I wouldn't let the cheese goodness go to waste.

So I just layered the potatoes, with a little bit of cream/cheese/onions, into the waffle iron, set to 350 degrees.
Mid-Way: Uh-oh.
I let it go.  And go.  And go.

It never released from the irons.  It never really got very crispy.  I don't really know what went wrong.

Was the temperature not right?  Was it the other waffling experiment I had going on the other side, that might have been a bit thicker, holding the iron too far apart?  I don't know.

But what I do know, is it just didn't waffle. I didn't take a photo of my pile of potato rubble, but, basically, it was just slightly toasted potatoes.  Perfectly tasty, but not a waffle.

I'm going back to just eating this stuff cold, or, perhaps, waffling a much thicker chunk?  The waffling experiments never end.

Attempt #3, July 2017: 

Waffled Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Tallegio Gratin.
Another day, another potato gratin to try to waffle.  This time, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.

Yes, it waffled, better than any other version actually.

But still, this one I actually preferred reheated the traditional way.  I need to stop trying this!
The Original: Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
The original was an incredible potato gratin, made with thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes, layered with swiss chard and leeks, plus plenty of heavy cream, taleggio, and parmesan.

In its original form, it was really just a perfect gratin.  The potatoes were soft but not mushy, the top was insanely crispy, the leeks and swiss chard made it moist and not too heavy, and the taleggio was just a perfect choice of cheese, one that melted beautifully, added pockets of gooey cheese, and had a unique flavor.

It was great when it was fresh.  It was amazing as cold leftovers, a la potato salad.  It was fantastic just reheated in the toaster oven.  But I wanted to give waffling potato gratin one last try ...
Leftover Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
So into the waffle iron a thin layer of leftovers went.

I wasn't willing to sacrifice much to this experiment, as I just liked it too much.
Waffling ...
350 degrees, no crusting.

I checked on it partway through, and, to my surprise, it actually looked fine.  The layers weren't separating since there weren't really layers, as I had done such a thin amount.  The cheese wasn't running out, oil pools weren't forming.

I let it go a few more minutes to crisp up.
Waffled Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
And crisp up it did.

The result was a perfectly crispy, thin potato waffle.

It lost the moisture of the original, it lost the gooey cheese,  but, it was far more successful than other times I've tried for making a potato pancake style.  Who knew that I just needed to go for a thinner layer?  I suspect the taleggio's melting point also helped prevent it from becoming a mess too, as it didn't run out everywhere.

I almost wish I had saved more, since this worked well, but actually, I still preferred it just traditionally warmed up.


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