The Au Gratin Pan
Notably, the last thing you can say about the au gratin cooking style is that it’s diet-friendly. On the bright side, it is the perfect meal for holidays. Careful, it can be addictive.
In the gratin dish, the magic is in the crust. Making the perfect crust often takes special preparation. One of these preparations is using the right vessel. Whether you use a casserole, lasagna dish, or pie plate, surface area is key. Low and wide is good.
Typically, the au gratin pan is an inch and a half deep. It can be round, oval or rectangular. You choose. One can also choose from a variety of material including copper, stainless steel, and glass. In the grand scheme of things, shape and material do not matter. Let me explain why.
Usually, you gather the ingredients and do the cooking using other equipment. You need the pan to put it under the broiler. You do not need the pan for anything else other than that. However, it does make the crusty top look inviting.
Water separation can ruin the crust. So, keep the pan at about two inches distance from the heat. Furthermore, spray two teaspoons of water on the walls of the broiler. It will give a steamy effect much like sun lotion. In other words, it can prevent the crust from breaking.
Au gratin vs Scalloped
There is a fundamental difference between potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes. They share the same concept: Sliced potatoes baked in a creamy sauce with crunchy crumbs. It is easy to confuse them.
Scroll up to revise the definition of gratin. Particularly, point number 2. Let me save you some time. The gratinee depends on cheese as a key ingredient. However, scalloped potatoes do not contain any cheese.
You can bake the scalloped potatoes in a creamy sauce all you want. Even cover them with seasoned bread or cracker crumbs. However, by definition, scalloped potatoes has no cheese and no broiling.
Why the confusion? Many recipes in circulation add cheese to scalloped potatoes with seasoned breadcrumbs. Sometimes, no breadcrumbs at all. Therefore, some people believe that the two dishes are interchangeable.
Be mindful and avoid making this mistake.