Gratin de pommes de terre provencal (Provencal-style Potato Gratin) and pan-fried/oven roasted steak

Through our CSA we unsurprisingly, for this time of year, have a fair number of potatoes.  Last weekend my mother-in-law (being 100% Irish-American) helped us make a dent in them with buttermilk mashed potatoes and Julia Child’s Gratin Savoyard, which were both very tasty.  Not being particularly creative I decided the latter would be a good way to use up some more of them this weekend to serve alongside our CSA beef.  (Yes–we have a vegetable CSA and separately a meat CSA–both of which we have just started but are quite pleased with thus far).

Julia Child actually has several variations on the gratin theme and when I saw the variation from Nice, I decided to opt for that one.  Why?  Using up more anchovies of course.  (I am trying to make sure I don’t waste that kilo of anchovies, but on the other hand we may find we are eating a lot more anchovies, so did it really save any money?  Not sure but at least there won’t be waste, I hope). 

First you slice up two cups of onions and saute until soft.  You are supposed to then add 2lb of fresh tomatoes; I used canned.

Gratin nicois:  tomato-onion layer

You then mash together 6 anchovies, two gloves of garlic, and a half teaspoon of basil and thyme and 2T of olive oil from the anchovies.  Since I was using my salt-packed anchovies, I added olive oil; I also only used 4 anchovies since the salt-packed ones tend to be larger.  A side note, but horror of horrors, Julia Child allows you to use dried basil.  If she were writing her cookbook today, I wonder if she would say the same thing, given how modern cookbooks tend to be quite adamant on this point.  Julia Child, surprisingly enough, does have a lot of these suggestions that would be anathema to “true gourmets” today–perhaps because when she was writing things like olive oil were considered some sort of weird ethnic food and garlic was that stuff immigrants smelled of.  Nowadays the ante is upped, I suppose, to be original and unique.  (That being said, I hope to grow some fresh basil at home, because of course fresher is better, but I appreciate that Julia, as much as she is seen as the paragon of intimidating cooking is in some ways very realistic about things!

Gratin nicois:  anchovy-garlic mix

You then layer:  1/4 of the tomato mixture, half the potatoes, half the anchovy mixture.  Again, half the remaining tomatoes, the remaining potatoes, and the last of the anchovy oil.  Finally top with the rest of the tomato mixture, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and into a 400F oven for 40 minutes.  (It took me 1 hour–not sure if it’s becasue I used a mix of boiling and baking potatoes–boiling potatoes are recommended–or because my pan was deeper than the suggested). 

gratin nicois--layering one

Layer one

Starting layer two

Starting layer two

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

In any case, it was delicious (and if you were wondering, not at all under-salted, thanks to those anchovies!)

gratin nicois

As I mentioned, we also have joined a meat CSA–pork, beef, and veal delivered frozen once a month.  We had a 1/2lb of strip loin steak (I had to look that up) and I used Mark Bittman’s recipe for pan-fried/oven roasted steak.  It worked like a charm–preheat a cast iron pan for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with salt and add the beef.  Cook for 3 minutes each side in a 500F oven (or hotter, if your oven can do it) and it will be cooked rare.  The genius of this method is it doesn’t smoke up your house (which is exactly what Mark Bittman recommends about it).  The meat was delicious, and I love the fact that it’s grass-fed, which is the way beef should be.  No need for antibiotics and antacids when the cows are eating what nature meant them to eat!  (And I mean, antacids for the cows, not for the humans!)

CSA strip loin steak                            cooked csa strip loin steak

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