What's the best kind of potato for a gratin (savoyard style i.e. with cream and cheese).
I like white potatoes.
which kind of white potatoes? I used yukon golds last night and they remained firm, despite extended cooking.
I mean the kind labeled "white potatoes" so not Yukons, not baking potatoes. BUT I just went and looked up Jeffrey Steingarten's piece in Vogue on potato gratin and he uses baking potatoes. I've made that recipe and it's terrific, so maybe he's right and I'm wrong. Baking potatoes will definitely not stay firm.
Personally, I'd say any potato except Mr. Potato Head. It's possible he'd stay too firm at best, and toxic at worst, being plastic and all. I've made potato gratin with Russet (baking), Red, White, and Blue (Peruvian) -- even sweet potatoes with chiles and Jack cheese. They all tasted great. Best? The one you make.
Definitely Yukon gold. Perfect texture. Perfect creaminess.
I think I've also made gratins with every potato imaginable - frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Potato Head himself found his way in there at some point. Anyway, I've never done Jeffrey Steingarten's recipe, but I have to agree - the humble baking potato is probably my favorite for this...maybe because it's so absorbent - the milk/cream, butter, cheese, etc. just seem to soak in there and integrate into one big cheesy, creamy pan of potato bliss. (Gee, can you tell how much I love a good gratin?)
Supposedly the higher starch levels of the russet make them ideal for gratins and mashed potatoes, but honestly I'm not sure I've ever had a bad gratin. I love them.
I'm pretty much down with Amanda on the use of waxy skinned white potatoes for gratins. But for frittes or gnocchi I'll go with russets.
i have used both russet and yukon golds with yummy results.
Yukon Golds aren't as waxy as red or white boiling potatoes, and they're not as fluffy as a russet, so they're a good compromise between the two.
If your recipe doesn't specify a particular potato, start with Yukon Golds.
If you're developing your own recipe, keep in mind that high-starch potatoes, like russets, will absorb more liquid and will not hold their shape. Low-starch potatoes--waxy red or white "boiling" or "salad" potatoes--will hold their shape after cooking and will benefit from a flavorful sauce to coat the slices. Yukon Golds are a medium-starch potato, so their slices tend to keep their shape (unless old, soft and way overcooked); their slices will absorb flavor from the liquid they're cooked in and will also allow themselves to be enrobed in a sauce without crumbling into oblivion.
My husband calls it "smashed potato and cheese casserole," but we like the texture of gratineed russets. I save all the other kinds of potatoes for soups, salads, stews and one-pot meals: every time I've tried to use them in a gratin, their texture reminds me of those mixes where you add water to a box of dried potatoes--kind of rubbery and gummy at the same time.
I go totally renegade on the Savoyard and don't peel the potatoes, because potato skin tastes so good. I use thin-skinned whites for this. I prefer the textural integrity of the whites over Yukon Golds; it allows you to taste the potato as a distinct flavor. (If I wanted mashed potatoes full of butter, cream and cheese, I'd make that instead.) ;o)