For the first in our three-part series on cheap and easy Thanksgiving recipes we focused on a main protein for a Thanksgiving meal — a chicken. Today, we look to his perfect accompaniment — the fail-proof potato.

Cheap, slightly dusty and often under-appreciated, the spotlight is turned on the staple root vegetable in this creamy, cheesy and all-round delicious recipe.

At just give ingredients (six if you choose to add nutmeg), potato au gratin relies on heavy seasoning with salt and pepper to cut through the cheese and cream and balance the dish out. If you have garlic, onion or any dried herbs already in your pantry, feel free to experiment with them in the recipe, it is foolproof.

This recipe should serve 4-6 people and takes 50 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds of potatoes (preferable Yukon Gold or russet),  peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 cups of half-and-half or heavy cream
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Gruyère
  •  Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Preparation

  1. Before getting started, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Layer the potatoes in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet and season each layer with salt and pepper as you go,
  2. Dot the top with 2 tablespoons butter and pour in the half-and-half — it should come about 3/4 of the way to the top.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the half-and-half has reduced by about half.
  4. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, that should take about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and cook until the potatoes are tender (you should be able to cut through them with a fork) and the top is nicely browned, about 8 minutes more. Top with grated cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melty and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg, if using, and serve.

This recipe is by Mark Bittman of The New York Times and can be found here, along with many more.
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