To begin, preheat oven to 350F and then butter the bottom and sides of a 9x9 Pyrex baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream, shallot, garlic and all of the ingredients up to and including the parmesan. Using a mandoline, slice the fennel very thin, about 1/16 of inch. Toss in cream mixture to coat, then remove to a small bowl on the side. Next, slice the potatoes crosswise at about 1/8-inch-thick and immediately place them in the cream mixture.
To assemble the gratin, lay the sliced potatoes in one even layer, then a layer of fennel. Crack fresh pepper across the top and then sprinkle about one quarter of the Gruyère. Repeat layering potatoes, fennel, and cheese until you run out. Pour any remaining cream mixture over the layered potatoes. And compress them flat with your hands. Bake until the potatoes have become tender and the surface is lightly golden brown, about 1 hour. A table knife should slip relatively easily through the center when done. Increase temperature to 400F for 15 to 20 minutes until top is deeply brown and the cream mixture is very thick. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting. Alternatively, you can stop after the gratin is baked through and cool it off for dinner the next day, saving the final step for before dinner time. Now, I will admit that one night, in a time pinch, I microwaved it for 12 minutes on high and then put it in a 400F oven for 20 minutes and it still turned out great. The advantage of using a 9x9 dish!
…and now for the rest of the plate.
I made this meal with sautéed kale, chard, and spinach for their earthy bitterness. I threw them in a hot non-stick with a splash of oil and minced garlic. Quickly tossed them and added a splash of white wine to steam them. Tossed them around and added a punch of salt. Toss toss toss….and let the pan sit at an angle before plating so the liquid could drain. I chose a large bone-in ribeye, or Côte de Boeuf, for it’s fattiness. (Also called a Cowboy Cut in many US steakhouses). I topped my steaks with a simple herb butter – garlic, shallot, chive, and heavy on parsley for some grassy undertones to bring a tiny bit of levity and accent the vanilla and rhubarb I also caught in there on the nose. In the end, pairing is all about balance.
The spice blend is a powerhouse of flavor but brings plenty of finesse – much like the Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon itself. I have used it on Aged NY as well as Filet and it has not failed to impress testers. For thicker cuts I do add a little more salt and I often season my steaks a day or more in advance. I recommend direct heat for this recipe – the higher the better. I use a carbon steel pan with a few tablespoons of clarified butter, fresh thyme and garlic. Finish in a 250F oven until desired doneness and let rest while you plate up your absolutely stellar dinner. Cheers!