Gratin dauphinois, repurposed into soup. It’s heart-stoppingly good! Literally. There’s a lot of dairy fat in this bad boy.
I guess I could have just heated it up as-is and served them as a side dish, but then I wouldn’t get to post this disgusting picture of congealed gratin, or as they’re known in Italian, patate allo spackle. I would give you a more precise translation, but the translation widget renders “spackle” as “spackle.” Helpful!
So I decided to repurpose them, so I could bring you this disgusting photo. I love the non-word repurpose; as far as I can tell from HGTV, it means “An ersatz television interior designer took this nasty old dresser I found in the garage of my crazy aunt who’s a pathological hoarder, spray-painted it with some high-gloss, put some decals on it and a pillow on top and now it’s a brand-new changing table that I’m proud to display in my home, at least until the film crew leaves.” Or something like that.
If you can do it with an unwanted dresser, surely you can do it with delicious potatoes; they do not cease being delicious just because they’re a couple days old.
Plus, I actually get to show you TWO fairly grotesque images: face it, this doesn’t look like something you want to eat.
I took the congealed mass and threw it into a pan – a non-stick pan – to heat with some nonfat milk. I am somewhat civilized, and thought I should start out this way rather than chucking the entire mass into a blender as-in and seeing what emerged. But I like my blender; it has years of history blending things on command and never complaining, so I would never do that to it. Better to de-nature the mass first, then pulverize.
While the potatoes were heating, I chopped and rinsed some leeks; they can be gritty little fuckers. These particular leeks might look a little small. They are small, I didn’t just take the photo from far away. They came from my CSA, where the vegetables are often small, misshapen or otherwise blemished but taste damn good. We’re ditching the CSA next year because of the good farmer’s markets that have sprung up in the neighborhood and our total inability to menu plan well enough to make good use of the produce, but I will miss it.
Well, except for one thing: we have the world’s dreariest farmer. We get email updates every week the day before pickup with news from the farm and lists of what the week’s share will entail. I appreciate these missives and like seeing what’s going to be available, but Farmer Todd* is just so. Damn. Depressing. Every week: “Well, the potatoes are covered with blight and the tarps blew off all the greenhouses in a storm and killed all the seedlings and it was slightly rainier than predicted so most of the onions are partially rotted and the goats broke into the house last night and stole all the good silverware to pawn so they’ll have money to buy meth and also the lettuce is wilted.”
And then you show up at pick-up, and you get overflowing bags of deliciously fresh vegetables and the freaking onions are just fine. Farmer: LIGHTEN UP. Your emails make me Down On Produce.
Anyway, those are some of my depressing leeks. After their bath, I dried ’em up good, and sauteed them briefly while the now-hot potatoes and milk rode the blender Tilt-a-Whirl.
The hot potatoes went into the blender in two batches – never overload a blender with hot food, or face the wrath. They got blended until the blender started making unpleasant noises and the other kitchen appliances were on the verge of a wildcat strike on the blender’s behalf. I was going to strain the puree, but extra step means extra time and extra dirty dishes. And if it was pureed enough to make the blender grunt, it’s probably pureed quite enough.
I poured the blended potatoes over the sauteed leeks. Well, it wasn’t “pour” so much as “scrape,” since the mixture was still pretty fricking thick. I whisked in some stock and then some more stock, followed by more stock, until it was more soup-like in texture. Although it was still thick enough that I think you could have stood plastic cutlery up in it. (Not a bad thing.)
A sprinkle of chopped leeks for garnish and contrast, also known as the chive effect, and soup was, quite literally, on.
What, I’m supposed to eat creamy soup for dinner without a grilled cheese sandwich? Are we animals, or are we (wo)men? We are women – at least, 50% of us are – and we therefore make grilled sharp cheddar and mango chutney on crusty wheat bread to go with our creamy soups.
Eating this soup was just like eating the original gratin, but without all the pesky wear-and-tear on the teeth that comes from the tedious chewing solid foods demand. It was thick enough to be on the verge of requiring chewing, but didn’t cross the line. Perfect for after an exhausting day where I’ve already given my jaw muscles a workout chatting with my co-workers around the water cooler.
It was RICH, and I only made it through half my bowl; I could have finished if it weren’t for that damn sandwich, but my love of grilled cheese is overriding. There is no small amount of leftover soup now, and I think I’ll whisk in quite a bit more stock and/or skim milk when re-heating.
Or, I’ll follow Brian’s suggestion for repurposing the soup: let it congeal, cut it into squares and bread and fry them. Re-re-purposing. He might be on to something.