Potatoes are a chef’s best friend. This tater-tastic tuber can be transformed into any dish of the imagination. When thinly sliced and layered between rich ingredients, it’s simply stunning. Taking inspiration from potatoes au gratin, this dish incorporates tiles of buttery golds, freshly ground lamb, and creamy feta cheese to create the perfect base for a twist on a Mediterranean classic.
With practice and proper execution, this baked casserole is a work of art with melt-in-your-mouth layers, crisp edges, savory nooks of lamb, creamy béchamel in between it all. For dinner parties make this ahead of time before your guests arrive. Keep it warm in the oven and then quickly broil it when ready to serve.
A wide variety of potatoes can be used in this recipe. We opted for size c yukon golds, but have found russets and reds to be equally successful. The key is to pick all the potatoes roughly the same size and then slice them just thin enough to hold up to blanching. We use a Benriner mandolin for consistency. 2 mm, 1/10″, or around 10 sheets of paper thick. For the roux, it’s not necessary to use wheat flour as potato flour works wonderfully as well. For the béchamel, make sure all the ingredients are close to room temperature so it stays lump free. Try this recipe with grass-fed beef, hand-reared veal, or any grass-fed ground meat. Reheats beautifully the next day.
Slice all the potatoes. Transfer to a large pot and top with salt and water. Place on the stovetop set to high heat.
Bring potatoes to a boil and turn heat down to medium. Cook for approx 4-6 mins until potatoes are almost tender but not falling apart.
Remove from stove and transfer immediate to a colander. Rinse with cold water and spread potatoes up the sides of the colander to dry. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, heat butter or olive oil and flour on medium heat. Whisk and cook until light beige.
Quickly stream in and whisk milk. Remove from heat and whisk in remainder of ingredients in order listed. Set aside.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium/high heat. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and bayleaf. Saute for 8 mins or until translucent and tender.
Add ground meat and cook until browned. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add remainder of ingredients and cook until thickened, approx 10 mins. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400f degrees.
Oil a deep 8x10 or medium/large baking dish (we used glass pyrex) and arrange potato slices in one layer, overlapping one another like tiles and neatly pave over each row until completely even.
If desired, you can pour a small amount of béchamel on top of the potatoes to "glue them together during the baking process. We opt not to as the delicate fall-apart-bite is what we love about this dish.
Depending on how many layers you desire, take one half or one third of the mixture of meat and spread it across evenly on top of the potatoes, not pressing down too hard as to not disturb the layers.
Repeat this (potatoes, meat, potatoes) until the meat mixture is finished and the final layer on top is just potatoes.
Pour desired amount of béchamel over the top of the last layer of potatoes.
Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake for 30-45 mins until you begin to see the liquid on the edges begin to bubble.
Remove foil and turn oven down to 350. Bake uncovered for an additional 30-45 mins. Once the top begins to brown and all the béchamel has cooked evenly across the top. Turn the broiler to high and finish with a 5 min hit to create a crisp crust if desired.
Allow to rest 10 mins before serving. Make ahead and reheat until internal temperature is 150-180.
This is a challenging recipe but will make you an all-star in the kitchen.