"Steak and potatoes" in my house means simple meat: grilled and unadorned. Instead, I put my efforts into creating new potato dishes. A gratin of very thinly sliced potato layers, for instance, sprinkled with shredded Havarti cheese and napped with a light mustard sauce. I bake them until the potatoes are fork-tender and a rich golden crust forms on top. Our entire family asks for seconds and, in some cases, thirds.
During the holidays, the gratin makes a delicious and uncomplicated offering. With their tender texture and zesty mustard seasoning, these potatoes work well with many entrees. For example, honey-baked ham, herb-roasted chicken, a garlic-studded leg of lamb and, of course, all manner of steaks or roast beef.
The dish has other good features. After baking, the potatoes could be kept warm for up to 30 minutes when covered loosely with foil, giving a cook time to put finishing touches on other foods. In addition, it's easy to double or triple the gratin for large gatherings.
MUSTARD-SCENTED GRATIN OF POTATOES
3 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
10 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
1 1/3 cups half and half