Although our family loves a hearty, creamy dish of mashed potatoes, there are times when we want a potato side dish that is a little out of the ordinary. That's when this recipe for Baker's Potatoes comes in handy. It's fills the same role in a meal, but with additional flavors of onions and cheese. It's just a bit more special than mashed potatoes, although both are delicious.
When you think of baker's potatoes, picture a potato casserole similar to potatoes au gratin. The dish consists of sliced potatoes layered together with sautéed onions and fresh or dried herbs, and cooked in a sauce made of butter, chicken stock, and white wine. The entire dish after being cooked, is covered with cheese and then returned to the oven until the cheese is properly melted.
Baker's Potatoes originated in France, where they are called pommes boulangère. The English name is a literal translation of the French term. Their history is an interesting one. In days of yore, people didn't always have an oven in their own home. They would prepare meals and take them to the local baker, or boulangère, to be cooked. Then they would take the cooked dishes away and serve them in their home.
Today it's hard for us to imagine a home without an oven. How much extra time it must have taken people to carry their prepared meals to a professional baker to cook and then return to them!
What Kind of Potato Should You Use?
The type of potato to use in this recipe is a matter of choice. I've made it with both Yukon gold potatoes as well as russet potatoes. (I've never tried it with red potatoes, but let me know in the comments if you use them in the dish!) Basically, anything you might use for baked potatoes or mashed potatoes would work well in this recipe, too.
The hardest preparation of the dish is slicing the potatoes and onions. Slicing them thinly and consistently will help ensure that they all cook through completely while in the oven. I like to use a mandolin slicer for this purpose; it's easier and much faster.
You just have to be careful not to cut your thumb in the process. I've suffered a number of minor mandolin injuries over the years and I've learned my lesson to always use the "holder" contraption. I hope you will learn from my mistakes and be careful as well!!!
Once everything is ready, you then sauté the onions and garlic in a combination of butter and olive oil. The casserole consists of alternating layers of potatoes and onions, with various herbs sprinkled within each layer. Before cooking, the remaining butter and olive oil are poured over the layers, along with chicken stock and white wine.
The entire dish is then baked in the oven until the potatoes are soft and cooked through. Finally, a layer of Gruyere or mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on top and then melted in the oven.
The resulting dish is "fancy" enough for a holiday gathering. It complements a Thanksgiving turkey or an Easter spiral ham equally. As a potato casserole, it's also a good choice for pot luck dinners among families or at church gatherings. In the photo above, I've served it alongside oven-baked BBQ chicken.
Baker's Potatoes is a very flavorful dish. The addition of fresh onions and garlic provide most of the flavor, but the thyme and rosemary, as well as the white wine, add additional interest. People who don't like onions and garlic (or those married to such!) may wish to avoid this dish, however! If you're like my family, however, you probably double the amount of garlic in everything you make.
Baker's Potatoes aka Pommes Boulangère
- 1 Mandolin slicer optional
- 1 Skillet
- 1 Baking dish
- 8 russet or Yukon gold potatoes
- 6 tablespoons butter plus more to butter baking dish
- 3 yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup white wine
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Thinly slice potatoes and onions using a mandolin or kitchen knife. You may peel the potatoes before if desired, but peeling is not required
- Thinly slice onions using a mandolin or knife.
- In a skillet on the stove, melt 6 tablespoons butter and all of the olive oil together over medium heat.
- Sauté garlic and onions in skillet until soft and fragrant. Then drain them but reserve the butter/oil mixture.
- Use additional butter or shortening to coat the sides and bottom of the baking dish.
- Add 1/3 of the potatoes to the baking dish, then 1/3 of the onions, then sprinkle some salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary on top.
- Continue layering potatoes, onions, and herbs twice more.
- Pour the remaining butter/oil sauce, the chicken broth, and the wine over the potatoes in the baking dish.
- Bake in the oven at 350° for 55 minutes.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle shredded cheese on top, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.