The classic potato gratin is reduced to its cruncy essence: so this it's almost like eating the crust off a traditional gratin. Parmesan cheese is ideal for potatoes because it almost disappears into the crust, enriching it instead of becoming gooey, which can happen with Fontina or Jarlsberg, for example. To create the ultimate in crispness, you can flip the rectangles of gratin after you broil the top, sprinkle the newly exposed sides with Parmesan cheese, pop them back under the broiler, and serve the toast-sized gratins in a toast rack. You can make this up to 1 day ahead, then simply broil the tops just before bringing the potatoes to the table.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper. The butter will hold the paper in place.
Dry the potatoes with a kitchen towel. Fit a Benriner with the medium julienne blade. Cut a slice from one side of the potato so it will lie flat against the blade of the Benriner. Attach the guard to the potato, then slice the potato into julienne strips. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes. You should have about 2 cups julienned potatoes.
Place the heavy cream in a large saute pan, add the butter, and season with a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of cayenne (or a few drops of Tabasco). Add the rosemary sprigs.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes and move them around gently with a pair of tongs to coat them. After about 2 minutes, the cream will thicken because of the starch in the potatoes.
Remove the pan from the heat, and remove & discard the rosemary. Using a rasp grater, grate the garlic directly into the potatoes (or mince the garlic and add it), and stir gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking pan, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the top is richly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then run a knife around the edges of the gratin to loosen the potatoes from the sides of the pan. Cover the pan and refrigerate until cold, or for up to a day. DO AHEAD: Can be made one day ahead to this point.
To serve, preheat the broiler with the rack on the top level. Remove the potatoes from the refrigerator. Run a knife around the edges of the pan again, and, with a large spatula, lift up the thin potato sheet, on the parchment, and place it on a cutting board. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut right through the sheet of potatoes and parchment to make rectangles. Pull away and discard the parchment paper, and return the potato pieces, right side up, to the baking pan.
Place the pan under the broiler for about 2 minutes, or until the top is well-browned and sizzling. Remove from the oven. There will be some noticable fat on the surface that has essentially fried the potatoes as they broiled. Lift each piece of potato with a large spatula and drain for a moment on paper towels, then place on a serving plate.
Make the gratin ahead. It must be chilled after baking so that it firms up enough to cut into serving portions. When broiling, leave the oven door slightly ajar, if necessary, to ensure that the broiler will not turn off when it reaches a high temperature.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (112g)|
|Recipe Makes: 6|
|Calories from Fat: 154 (68%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 17.1g||23 %|
|Saturated Fat 10.6g||53 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 4.7g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0.7g|
|Cholesterol 53.4mg||16 %|
|Sodium 115.3mg||4 %|
|Potassium 346mg||9 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 14.3g||4 %|
|Dietary Fiber 1.8g||7 %|
|Sugars, other 12.5g|
|Protein 4.6g||7 %|
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Calories per serving: 225
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