When Irish Eyes are Smiling: Irish Potato Gratin

by Sarah on April 5, 2011

Potatoes.  Cream.   Scallions.  Dubliner cheese.  Marry these ingredients together and you’ll not only have Irish eyes-a-smilin’ but likely anyone near enough to get a whiff of this rich savory dish.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even planning on making this.  I had just read and re-posted an article on Facebook about a potato-leek gratin that I spied in the NY Times….I nearly fainted out of desire for this thing, I swear to you.  It was gratin lust.  Pure and simple.

I decided that I would make it for St. Patrick’s Day.  But I hesitated…..if I made gratin, I couldn’t very well also make my beloved colcannon, or even more beloved champ:  Buttery mashed potatoes, combined with spring onions or scallions.

The solution was to combine the two–a gratin with spring onions in place of the sweet, mellow leeks.  Awww, yeeaah.

I’m going to tell you the truth, Readers.  Although my photo shows red potatoes, I think you’d be better off using russets.  The starchy kind of potato just works better than the waxy kind.

I gave the scallions a very quick saute in some butter, but I think if you were in a hurry you could even skip this.  These little green onions are so mild, they’ll cook plenty in the oven.

As with any good gratin, layering is key.  Thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, onions.  Repeat.  It’s a good idea to season each layer with salt and pepper.

Now you have to add liquid of some sort for the potatoes to poach in.  For a gratin, it’s usually milk or half-and-half.  For this version, I heated whole milk with a smashed garlic clove and the teensiest pinch of nutmeg.  Pour right over the potatoes, until the milk mixture comes up to the top layer.

Top with some Parmesan, if you feel like it.  Cover and bake until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the cover, add a little cream and/or butter—just go for it, you’ve already committed to a fair amount of fat and calories here–and bake again until browned and bubbly.

Trust me, it looked, smelled and tasted delicious.  I was in lust again—and so looking forward to digging into this dish that I didn’t even take a closer picture of it.  You’ll just have to make it for yourself and see.

Irish Potato Gratin


  • 3-4 russet potatoes, sliced by hand or on a mandolin, very thin and evenly
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp cream
  • 3/4 cup Dubliner cheese
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • salt, pepper


  • Preheat oven to 350*. Using 1 Tbsp of the butter, grease the inside of your gratin dish.
  • Saute onions lightly in butter (optional).
  • Begin layering gratin ingredients. First adding slices of potato, slightly overlapping to cover the bottom of the dish. Then a small layer of Dubliner, then some of the onion. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Repeat 3 times or until ingredients are gone. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat together the whole milk, garlic and pinch of nutmeg until simmering. Pour over the potatoes, just until the milk reaches the top layer of the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and top with Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender, approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the layer of foil and add the cream and the remaining Tbsp of butter--broken into bits-- to the top of the gratin. Return to the oven and let continue to cook until lightly browned and bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

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