One of our September cookbooks comes from West Texas--but these aren't your everyday ranch-style meals. Louis Lambert shares "haute ranch cooking" in Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook, which "blends the bold, simple flavors of his cattle-ranching heritage with sophisticated cooking techniques, a rustic repertoire touched with elegance."

If you enjoy this recipe, you'll love the rest Big Ranch, Big City has to offer. It's out today! Enjoy!

Parmesan Potato Gratin

When dining at a big-city steakhouse, I want a char-grilled steak cooked medium-rare and a side of potato gratin, with a cheese-crusted top and a creamy potato center. I love the Parmesan cheese and thyme in these potatoes, but I’ll sometimes change it up with Gruyère and a little roasted garlic. The trick to a good potato gratin is to put the potatoes into the cream as you cut them. The cream will keep the cut potatoes from oxidizing? turning brown?without washing off the potato’s starch. The starch helps to thicken the cream and hold the potatoes together when cooked. You can make this gratin ahead of time and reheat it, covered with foil, in a low oven.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 cups heavy cream

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme

  • Pinch of nutmeg

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inchcasserole dish or a 3-quart Dutch oven with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, the salt, white pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. Evenly slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick and place in the bowl with the seasoned cream, stirring to coat the potatoes.

Arrange the potato slices in the casserole dish, overlapping them like shingles on a roof. Pour the cream mixture remaining in the bowl evenly over the potatoes; the cream should come almost to the top layer of potatoes. Press down on the potatoes to evenly compact them into the cream.

Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan over the potatoes and then dot the top of the cheese with small pieces of the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Bake the gratin, uncovered, in the middle of the oven until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the gratin rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Excerpted from Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook by Louis Lambert © 2011. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Read our review of this book.

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