“I’m always on potato duty,” says chef David Kinch of his annual Thanksgiving plans.
And why shouldn’t he be? When the nomadic chef/owner of three-Michelin-starred Manresa isn’t continually on the go—like his recent series of pop-up dinners in France to celebrate his 15 year anniversary—he and his team dole out one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated tasting menus night after night.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, Kinch shuts down the restaurant and attends an annual potluck feast with friends and family.
Here, Kinch’s go-to recipe for creamy, crunchy potato gratin Savoyard. Do as the chef—and the rest of the Manresa staff—does, and kick back and relax this holiday season with this super easy French classic.
Gratin SavoyardCourtesy of David Kinch, Manresa
3 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons salt
1 bay leaf
8 whole peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ounce softened butter
5 to 5 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and rinsed, and sliced into 1/8”-thick rounds
10 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated, with 4 ounces reserved for finishing
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
2. In a pot, heat the chicken stock, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns and garlic together over low to medium heat; do not boil. Be mindful and taste to make sure the garlic flavor isn’t too aggressive.
3. Strain and hold warm. You want the stock to be very salty as it will be absorbed by the potatoes during cooking.
4. Liberally butter a gratin dish (approx. 10” x 10”) with all of the butter. Place a single layer of potatoes on the bottom of the buttered dish. Sprinkle a small amount of the cheese on the potatoes, then ladle a couple of tablespoons of seasoned stock on top. Add another layer of potatoes, then cheese, then stock. Repeat until all of the potatoes, stock and cheese is used. When you push down on the gratin the potatoes will sink under about ½ inch. This is what you want. Cover the gratin with foil, poke a few holes in the foil with a small knife and place in the oven on a sheet rack and cook for 30 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and check with a toothpick that the gratin is soft all the way through. Return to the oven uncovered and cook for 12 minutes to reduce the last bit of stock, with the potatoes absorbing the last bit to become solid. Sprinkle with the reserved grated cheese and return to the oven until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes more.
6. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. It can also be cooled down and kept covered and refrigerated a few days in advance of serving.