Julia Child’s Rapee Morvandelle (Gratin of potatoes, onions & ham)
Mostly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
½ cup onion, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
½ cup cooked ham, diced (Julia did say to finely dice, but I like to see little squares)
1 clove garlic, minced (Julia calls for ½ a clove…but seriously…)
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped (and I added 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves too rather than the chervil…although the chives she mentioned would have been great if I had any)
2/3 cup Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
4 tbsp cream or milk (I’m living an illusion that I can make this healthier)
Pepper and salt to taste
3 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
2 tbsp butter to melt in the baking dish plus ½ tbsp butter cut in little pea sized bits to sprinkle on top
Paprika (my addition, because I love how it adds color to the baked dish)
Preheat your oven to 375°F/180°C
1. Cook the onions slowly in butter and oil for 5 minutes or so over low heat. You want them soft, not browned. Stir occasionally.
2. Raise the heat a bit and add the ham. Stir and let cook for 2 minutes or so and remove from heat.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the garlic, herbs, cheese, milk/cream and salt & pepper and mix well. Add the ham & onion mixture and toss again. Set aside while you prepare the potatoes.
4. Peel the potatoes and cut in half. If you are going to grate them by hand, do it over a bowl of cold water to keep the potatoes from turning pink or, worse, grey. If you are using the grating blade of your food processor, you don’t need to do that…it only takes a minute.
5. Squeeze the excess water/liquid from the potatoes and add them to the egg mixture. Mix each squeezed handful in before doing more…that, too keeps the potatoes white.
6. Prepare your oven proof dish by melting an additional 2 tbsp of butter. When we (my mother, grandmother, aunts, now daughters…it’s a Jewish tradition) make potato kugel, we heat oil in the pan in the oven so that the potatoes will form its own crispy shell…I forgot to do it here, but I bet it would be great.
7. Once the butter is melted, pour in the egg, potato & ham mixture into the dish. Sprinkle with last bit of butter pieces and I sprinkled with paprika for even more color…Do you think Julia would mind?
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.