Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving in Austin -- Updated Potato Gatto

Note to self: See if fiancee can work these pictures a little better... I hate posting such dark photos, but Photoshop makes my computer run like a snail. Ugh. Anyways, figured I should have this up sooner rather than later!

I've never had a Thanksgiving away from home. This year, as you probably know, I'm living in Austin, Texas, about 2000 miles from my family in Massachusetts. Cory and I decided that we should save our money for plane tickets home for Christmas, so this means that tomorrow will be my first Thanksgiving away from my family. It's bizarre. I keep forgetting it's Thanksgiving time at all, considering it's a sunny 60 degrees outside today. Thanksgiving means cold and family and the suggestion of snow.

Over the past few years, the Friendsgiving trend has been becoming more popular. For those of us who are far from home for the holiday it's a nice comfort to be surrounded by friends to share the holiday with. I'll be having a mini-Friendsgiving of my own (appetizers and drinks) this weekend for friends to try the Budweiser 12 Beers I got from Millennial Central (check out my Instagram for a sneak peek!).
This past weekend, my friend Lauren invited me to a Friendsgiving with some of her new Austin friends. Lauren is also from Boston, and moved here for a job a few months before I did. It's nice to have a college friend in the area, and I was grateful for the excuse to cook!

She told me they needed another potato dish, so I knew exactly what I was going to use. Based on a recipe I found while working at FamilyFun Magazine, this is one of my go-to potluck dishes when I am invited to a party. Especially if my rarely-seen Shy Ashley Self makes an appearance (as it did at this event) because then at least I can find comfort in knowing people liked my food, even if I was too shy to chat!

You may remember this Potato Gatto from an older post, about two years ago, also for a Friendsgiving. Although THESE pictures kind of suck, the ones from that post sucked even WORSE so I figured it was worth a re-do. This dish is pretty simple, though it does take a while to cook the potatoes and then bake the whole casserole, but it's a great dish to make ahead of time. It also can be altered to fit your own needs (I made it gluten-free) and you can sub the meats and cheeses for your favorites. I actually will be bringing this to Cory's aunt's Thanksgiving which we will be taking part in, and another Friendsgiving later in the evening.

Potato Gatto
(Adapted from FamilyFun Magazine, link no longer available)
  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I used gluten free)
  • 1 stick soft butter
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup Fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup Marscapone or cream cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small onion, cut into strips and caramelized (onion + 1 tbs butter + 1 tbs EVVO + 1 tsp sugar cooked over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 ounces sliced Genoa or other Italian-style salami and/or prosciutto, chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped

-Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with cold water covering them by about an inch. Cover the pan and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain them and let them cool slightly.

-While potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a skillet until desired done-ness. When bacon is almost cooked to your liking, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until bacon is crispy and onion is translucent.

-Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with half the the bread crumbs, turning it to spread the crumbs evenly.

-When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Place the potatoes in a bowl and mash them until smooth (I left some lumps though). Stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter, the milk, 1 cup of the grated cheese, the egg, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the mozzarella, salami, Fontina, caramelized onions, and the bacon/onion mixture.

-Melt the remaining butter and mix with the remaining breadcrumbs, adding more or less butter or breadcrumbs until the mixture is clumpy.

-Heat the oven to 400º. Spread the potato mixture evenly in the dish, dot with  of butter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. (This dish can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

-Right before baking, sprinkle the buttered breadcrumbs generously over the top.

-Bake the dish until the top is browned and the center is hot, 40 to 45 minutes (50 minutes to an hour if it was refrigerated). Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

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