Use A Muffin Tin To Simplify Potatoes Au Gratin
Rich and cheesy sliced potatoes, baked until brown and crispy — who can resist potatoes au gratin? Baking a large dish of potatoes can take hours, but you can simplify your life and save some time by baking them in a muffin tin. Muffin tins are more versatile than you may have imagined. They can be used for so many kitchen projects beyond just baking, including individual potatoes au gratin.
You'll get beautiful portions of potatoes with this method, perfect for serving on a buffet or a dressed-up dinner plate. One of the biggest benefits of cooking potatoes au gratin in a muffin tin is a faster baking time. When cooked this way, the potatoes are exposed to oven heat all around the edges with no large center portion that is slow to cook through. As a bonus, the muffin tin also gives each individual portion yummy browned cheese on the edges and top. The single servings are also easy to store and reheat for later. After they've been popped out of the tin, you can keep them refrigerated for a few days and reheat them later on for a convenient mid-week treat.
The best potatoes au gratin start with starchy potatoes. Use a mandolin (carefully!) to slice the potatoes evenly for consistent cooking all the way through. For perfectly round gratins, choose larger potatoes and only use the middles. You can save the scraps and freeze them to use in a minestrone another day.
Once the potatoes are sliced, give them a quick pre-simmer in a garlicky, thyme-infused cream bath. This cooks the potatoes slightly to save time in the oven, and the potato starch thickens the cream so it won't curdle if the oven gets too hot. Coat the cups of the muffin tin with butter and fill them halfway with the simmered potato slices. Add a layer of grated Gruyere cheese, then fill the cups to the top. Spoon in cream to cover the gratins and finish with more grated cheese. After baking, use a table knife to loosen the potatoes from the muffin tin — they'll pop out best when slightly cooled.