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In my personal cookbook, there is nothing as scrumptious and as “homestyle” as a cassolette full of tender slices of potatoes, loaded with shallots and lardons, drenched in thick cream then topped with a thick slice of Maroilles!
How can we improve on it? You can’t really. In my cooking experience, it’s the perfect side dish for just about any grilled, roasted or pan-seared meat. Last night, I served it with tiny lamb chops.
The best part of this recipe is that it requires few ingredients, easy prep steps and with a few tweaks, quick to assemble. It takes longer to finish cooking than it does to put the ingredients together.
Maroilles or Munster?
I admit it. Maroilles is not easy to find and not the cheapest cheese in town. But, in this recipe, it’s the cheese that makes the difference. Otherwise, you could call this a cassolette of loaded scalloped potatoes with onions and bacon. Far from it.
What we’re after is the unique combination with the distinct flavors of shallots, ventrèche and especially the earthy aroma and mushroomy flavor of Maroilles.
Munster as in the AOC Alsatian washed rind Munster (the best is Munster Géromé®) from the old country is pretty close to Maroilles. I’m not talking about the processed Muenster cheese available in the supermarket deli counter or under wraps in the cheese section.
Just like Maroilles, it is an “intense” semi-soft stinky cheese that melts easily to make a smooth sauce. It also has the red-orange rind caused by bacteria. This is what gives it a distinctive flavor.
Last but not least, distance wise, Alsace is not far from Picardie and we have similar cheeses. 🙂
Bacon or Ventrèche?
Buy lean pancetta. Do not use bacon. It is too fatty for this recipe.
I don’t use ham because it is much blander than pancetta even when lightly fried. I like to save the ham for a ham and Emmentaler variation.
Ventrèche (a version of pancetta) is virtually impossible to find in the United States unless you find a butcher who imports or makes this charcuterie item.
Lightly sauté the diced lardons in a medium hot pan. You want the meat to render a little without having to dry the meat on a paper towel, take on some color but not burn into little charred bits of meat.
What little is rendered is more than enough to brown the potatoes. Add a tablespoon of butter for flavor if you must.
While the potatoes are baking in the oven, pan sear some small lamb chops and prepare a salad. Dinner is ready in under an hour!
- 2 oz. Lardons, Pancetta or Ventrèche (lean)
- 4 to 5 small Petite Gold Potatoes (about 3 inches long)
-  1/4 in thick slices of Maroilles
- 2/3 cup of cream (or milk if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 large shallot, cut into slivers
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven or counter top oven to 350 degrees.
- In boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until just tender. You want to be able to cut them in slices while still hot. They will finish cooking in the oven.
- Cut the shallots into slivers and set aside.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, sauté the lean Pancetta of medium low heat. You want the "lardons" to render a little fat and brown lightly. They need to stay chewy rather than dry to crisp.
- Add the shallots to the pan and toss with the Pancetta.
- Add the slices potatoes to the pan and sauté until golden brown. Watch those bits of Pancetta.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Butter two small containers (I used my Corning Petite pans)
- Divide the potato mixture evenly into the containers making sure the potatoes are leveled out.
- Pour the cream over the potatoes.
- Top each pan with a thick slice of Maroilles or Munster.
- Season the top of the cheese with a little bit of pepper and a few sprinkles of parsley.
Place in a pre-heated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the cheese and cream are bubble and golden. Test with a knife tip to make sure the potatoes are cooked through.
Why heat up the whole kitchen for such small dishes when you can prepare your recipe in a counter top oven? I love this model and for years now have used mine for more than just toast. It's perfect for cassolettes!
Of course, the kitchen of dreams would have a 48 inch range with two ovens! I'm working on it.
Use thick cut bacon but make sure it is lean. Cut the bacon in tiny strips, sauté as in the recipe but expect it to render more fat. Remove from the pan and dry on paper towels before using in the recipe.
I often buy diced ham to add to omelettes. Use it sparingly in this recipe because ham does not taste the same as thick bacon. The cheese takes center stage in this recipe.
For hard to find ingredients, I like to visit For The Gourmet®
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 921 Total Fat: 58g Saturated Fat: 33g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 22g Cholesterol: 151mg Sodium: 514mg Carbohydrates: 86g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 8g Protein: 19g