Lynda Balslev: Bland, rubbery cheese need not apply

As the saying goes, if it's not broken, don't fix it. I agree with this philosophy, but with one caveat: You can always add more cheese -- especially when making a potato gratin.

As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I agree with this philosophy, but with one caveat: You can always add more cheese — especially when making a potato gratin. A potato gratin is a cheese lover’s gift, with ultrathin layers of sliced potatoes blanketed in oozing cheese, cream and, yes, more cheese. It’s a rich and comforting side dish, guaranteed to soothe any seasonal blahs, with the promise of tipping a dinner to the luscious point of no return.

It’s important to invest in the cheese you choose for a gratin. Your cheese must easily melt, of course, and should also provide flavor to the entire dish, including hints of sharpness, earthiness and/or nuttiness. A surefire source I recommend would be the Swiss alps. Note that the term “Swiss” does not refer to the ubiquitous hole-riddled cheese you’ll find at your supermarket deli counter. Swiss, in this context, refers to the country and its mountainous alpine region.

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