Potato Gratin à la Normande


Normandy being apple and cheese country, lots of regional recipes include these two delicious staples. If you’ve never savored a perfectly ripe Pont l’Évêque (named for the town where it comes from in Calvados land), a soft cheese with a savory smell and a pronounced tang, you should try it. This recipe comes from a friend, and I especially like it for marrying protein with fruit flavor—a nice autumn lunch.


18 ounces potatoes (russet or Idaho), peeled and sliced thinly
1 ounce walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces each
1 Pont l’Évêque cheese
7 ounces sour cream or crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Yield: 4 servings


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the potatoes in slightly salted boiling water for 8 minutes, then drain. While the potatoes cook, warm a nonstick frying pan, and toast the walnuts for a minute or two over medium heat. When cool, crumble and reserve. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add the apples, and let brown for 3 to 4 minutes while stirring. Cut the crust off the cheese, and slice the cheese thinly. Butter a rectangular baking dish, and cover it with a layer of potatoes, then a layer of apples, a layer of cheese, and a sprinkle of walnuts. Continue layering until all the ingredients have been used. Top with sour cream, season with salt and pepper to taste, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Note: A simple green salad is a perfect accompaniment to this dish, which is also very good served with chicken or any white meat.