Friday, December 11, 2009


It does not photograph well, but it tastes GREAT!

Yesterday I started pondering my Christmas menu. It's just a tad more complicated than Thanksgiving menu. First, I think I will be cooking more large meals than I did for Thanksgiving. For Jackie and me, Christmas Eve is as special as Christmas day. We fell into a tradition early on in our relationship of making the eve special, and I plan on continuing that. Plus, New Year's eve is a big dinner opportunity, and New Year's day. And this will mark my very first FESTIVUS menu. Our plans are a still up in the air as far as just how big (how many people), how "fancy" (probably no Turducken, but something special for 1,2, 3 or 4 dinners needs to be considered (OK, turkey for one, what about the rest???)) and how many new dishes vrs tried and true traditional. I need to have a pretty big arsenal of side dishes in my pocket for these meals.

Well, it is not too early to start testing and considering new dishes. Not sure if this will make the cut for Christmas Day, but I just found a winner side dish that will show up somewhere over the holidays...

OK, credit where it belongs... second day in a row that I am stealing a recipe from CATALINA from HAVING FUN IN THE KITCHEN! Cat came up with that beautiful FLOWERED APPLE PIE dessert I posted about yesterday. If you are not a regular visitor to her blog, you are missing out on some very good sounding dishes... like this...

I didn't follow the original recipe much, so this is more of an "inspired by" edition of Cat's original post (lots of photo instructions on her site over HERE)!

Here's what I did...


3 Russet baking potatoes
1 1/2 cups Pecan pieces
2 cups Buttermilk
1 TBS Kosher Salt
1 TBS mixed Herbs
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

I am sorry I do not have more detailed photos, but this is pretty easy...

First, in a saucepan, low heat, add the Buttermilk and Pecans. Get them simmering gently, and cook for about 20 minutes (softens the nuts up a bit, and infuses that great buttermilk flavor).

Start pre-heating the oven at 350 degrees... This is fast and easy, if you use a food processor or slicing mandoline, you are only 20 minutes away from in the oven and essentially done. If you slice them by hand, add an extra 5 minutes of prep time to get a band-aid...

While that is simmering, cut your potatoes into thin 1/8th inch slices. I was very lazy, and used the blade setting on my food processor. Also, I only washed the potatoes, I did not peal them (extra roughage for a more moving experience, as well as more nutrients). Visually, it will be more appealing if you peal them, the peal adds a gray tone to the final dish. However, if you get into the habit of using the peals, and learn to overlook the grayish hue, your colon will thank you. If you are serving this to a judgmental Mother-in-law, you are between a rock and a hard place... On one hand, serving gray potatoes could be serving up ammunition to the shrew. On the other hand, if she is visiting for a few days, you sure don't want her backed up if you know what I mean... I am more... um... comfortable with the peals.

OK, enough of the crappy innuendo, at this point, you are ready to start building your layers...

In a 9X13 greased pan, lay out 1/3 of the potato slices, covering the bottom (if you use a food processor, you will need to separate the slices by hand, they kind of stick together).

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the Cheddar Cheese over this layer...

Repeat with a second layer...

Repeat with a third and final layer. Sprinkle the kosher salt over the potatoes and cheese, and then layer the milk/nuts simmering mixture. And finally, top with the Parmesan cheese!

350 degrees for 45 minutes, until the mess above looks like...

a roasty, toasty, cheesy, nutty potato MASTERPIECE!

I LOVED THESE! Tender potatoes, sharpness of the cheddar, and just a bit of teh crunch from the pecans. May not be the prettiest dish, but it sure was among the tastiest potato recipes I have ever eaten. I HIGHLY recommend these!

Can you just imagine a plate with Raspberry Chipotle spiral cut Sausage stuffed Pork Loin, my wife's new favorite vegetable dish, MARGUERITE from CAJUN DELIGHT's Cajun Corn Casserole (click HERE). and these potatoes... Good Eats!

And just a quick reminder, I am giving away a 2010 CHILI PEPPER CALENDER. Click HERE for the details, leave a comment on the page to enter to win... BUT, Contest ends tonight at midnight (when the rooster crows).


  1. Interesting, I just cannot imagine nuts with potatoes, but I trust you!

  2. That Festivus video is hilarious!
    I probably wouldn't add the nuts either (like Cheryl.) But the rest sounds delicious.

  3. Well, I wouldn't have thought to add the nuts, but I love all the cheese! Can't have too much cheese with tators.

  4. I love potato anything and especially this gratin. Will give it a try. LOVE the Festivus video, I've not seen that one. I think my favorite part was George's boss sipping out of that little liquor vile at the Festivus Table. If not part of the tradition, it should be.

  5. I used to attend a yearly (grown up people only) festivus party where I used to live. I loved it. Then we had Christmas for the kids on Christmas day. I really should revive that tradition here in Wichita...

    Huh...I'm thinking about it, and I don't think I have ever had a sweet potato dish with cheese in it, not that I can recall. This looks intriguing :D

  6. Nuts in potatoes... that's a new one on me! I got a wife who is nuts for potatoes.. :)

  7. Good texture contrast, and like Cheryl, I would never have thought of adding pecans to a gratin. But hey, if you highly recommend it, I know it's good!

  8. That looks like a super side dish, Dave! I just got some maple smoked pecans, too....

  9. I'm really intrigued by this. I've bookmarked the recipe to try when I have more time.

  10. How can anything covered in cheese be wrong? That includeds nuts with potatoes.

  11. Looks pretty to me! I don't think I've ever had pecans and cheese together, but I bet it's awesome.

  12. Wow great idea adding pecans! I can imagine how delicious it is!

  13. I never would have thought to add pecans to a dish like that!! Brilliant!

  14. This is such an interesting recipe and I wouldn't have thought of adding pecans to white potatoes, either. I always cook a seafood gumbo on Christmas Eve and have a buffet for Christmas, with a Cajun ham and lots of seafood, and sides. Will be posting some soon. Happy weekend, cher!

  15. This sounds like a fantatic dish! I bet it would also be awesome with sweet potatoes. I am a sweet potato fanatic, you should know.

    My family celebrates both Xmas Eve and Xmas day as well. I plan on making desserts for both, but main dishes only for Xmas Day since we aren't hosting Xmas Eve. That's exhausting me enough as it is! I don't know how you do it.

  16. This sounds excellent. An interesting, unusual side dish that could be made ahead! Love it!!

  17. I'm all for trying the nuts, but I'm not sure my family would agree. Do you think it would still be pretty spectacular sans pecans?

  18. Man, I expected controversy, Dave. I was expecting name calling, chest thumping, and gnashing of teeth;)

  19. Interesting recipe! I like the addition of crunchy pecans in the potato gratin.

  20. I've had nuts with sweet potatoes, but not white, but why not? And anything with cheese, well, it's got to be good.

  21. I think it sounds pretty good! But then I love potatoes, cheese, and pecans so what's not to like?! :)

  22. I can imagine the nuts with potatoes, I am kind of creative with my taste buds! I just saw a flowered apple pie, wondering if it holds its shape? So going to look...sorry it took me so long to get over here!

    I also begin to play for Christmas, but hubbys family makes the food, we just show up...on occasion they will 'invite' me to make something, but they are not too crazy about eating outside their box...

  23. Yey for yet another great recipe I inspired you to make !