Potato stacks, an ideal accompaniment for dinner parties or festive meals, are crafted with a blend of cream, fresh thyme, garlic, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, and potatoes. These stacks feature a delightful contrast of crispy exteriors with a soft, creamy interior, each layer bursting with rich flavors.
Potato Stacks are a delightful and versatile potato dish, often stealing the spotlight at dinner tables or during festive meals. They bear a resemblance to scalloped potatoes. When baked in metal muffin cups, the potato slices acquire a crispy exterior while maintaining a tender center.
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Parmesan cheese, known for its compatibility with potatoes, is a classic choice for this recipe, although you’re free to use any preferred melty cheese. These potato stacks are not only oven-friendly but can also be conveniently prepared in an air fryer or counter oven, making them a great option when the oven is occupied with other holiday dishes.
Despite being made from the simple potato, the rich flavor profile of these herb-infused potato stacks ensures they’re a repeat feature in many culinary repertoires.
These basic ingredients are easily found at your local grocery store:
Heavy Cream: Enhances the potatoes with a creamy taste and bakes well without separation.
Thyme Leaves: Fresh thyme is recommended for the best flavor.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic with a strong aroma for optimal results.
Nutmeg: A delightful, warm spice perfect for autumn.
Russet Potatoes: Ideal for potato stacks, but other starchy potatoes like Yukon gold or varieties in white, yellow, or purple can also work. Avoid small fingerlings or petite potatoes as they don’t hold together as well.
Kosher Salt: Essential for balancing the starch in potatoes.
Black Pepper: Freshly cracked for added flavor and a hint of spice.
Parmesan Cheese: A hard, robust cheese that complements potatoes beautifully.
To achieve the ideal thin slices for crispy potato stacks, there are two main methods:
Mandoline Slicer: This is the most effective tool for creating uniformly thin potato slices. A mandoline slicer is a sharp kitchen instrument designed for thinly slicing various ingredients like potatoes, other vegetables, fruits, cheese, or meat. To use it, you glide the potato along the edge of the horizontal blade, set at its lowest. Caution is crucial, as the sharpness of the blade can easily lead to cuts if you’re not attentive.
Chef’s Knife: In the absence of a mandoline slicer, a chef’s knife can be a viable alternative. The key to safety and efficiency is first to create a flat base by slicing off a portion of the potato’s bottom. This allows the potato to sit steadily on the cutting surface. Then, with your fingers safely positioned, use the sharp knife to make slices as thin as possible. This method requires more skill and attention to maintain slice consistency.
Potato Stack Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide
Muffin Tray Preparation: Begin by coating a standard muffin tray with a layer of nonstick cooking spray. This will help prevent the potato stacks from sticking and ensure easy removal after baking.
Cream Mixture Preparation: In a small saucepan, gently heat a mixture of cream, thyme, garlic, and a pinch of nutmeg. This aromatic mixture will infuse the potatoes with rich flavors.
Potato Layering: Take thinly sliced potatoes and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully layer these slices into the prepared muffin tray, arranging them to form neat stacks.
Adding Cream and Cheese: Once the potato stacks are in place, evenly distribute the previously prepared warm cream mixture over each stack. Then, generously sprinkle the top of each stack with grated parmesan cheese, adding a savory, cheesy crust.
Baking Process: Place the muffin tray in a preheated oven and bake until the potatoes have softened (knife tender) and the tops are golden brown, indicating a delightful crunchiness.
Final Touches: After baking, remove the tray from the oven and allow it to rest for a moment. This rest period makes it easier to remove the stacks. Gently run a knife around the edges of each stack to loosen them, and then transfer the potato stacks carefully to a serving platter for presentation and enjoyment.
Recipe Tips for Crispy Parmesan Potato Stacks
Garnish for Presentation: Enhance the visual appeal of your potato stacks by adding a sprig of fresh herbs on top.
Choose the Right Potatoes: Opt for medium to small-sized potatoes that will fit comfortably in a standard muffin pan.
Keep the Skin On: Save time by leaving the skin on the potatoes. Just ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed to remove any dirt.
Use Heavy Cream: Stick to heavy cream in your recipe. Substituting it with half-and-half or milk might result in a less desirable, oily texture as they do not thicken similarly during baking.
Variations to Try
Experiment with Herbs: Feel free to use other fresh herbs like rosemary or oregano. In the absence of fresh herbs, dried ones are a good alternative.
Different Cheese Options: Experiment with various melty cheeses like gruyere, Havarti, mozzarella, comte, cheddar, asiago, or romano.
Season to Your Liking: Tailor the seasoning to complement the main dish. Options include ginger, cardamom, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, or a bit of cayenne pepper for heat.
Alternative Cooking Methods
Air Fryer or Countertop Oven: If your oven is occupied, say during Thanksgiving, an air fryer or countertop oven can be a great alternative. Prepare the potatoes as usual, place them in the muffin tin, and cook in the air fryer at 350 degrees until soft throughout.
Post-Cooking Garnishing: For an added touch of richness and flavor, sprinkle more parmesan cheese over the potato stacks after they come out of the oven.
This sophisticated side dish can be elegantly paired with sour cream, chives, or scallions. It’s also a perfect addition to holiday meals, complementing dishes such as:
Herb Roasted Chicken
Chopped Autumn Salad
Christmas Fruit Salad
Pomegranate Arugula Quinoa Salad
Refrigeration: Keep the potato stacks in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Reheating: Warm them up in the microwave in 30-second intervals until thoroughly heated.
Freezing: After baking the potato stacks, let them cool completely. Arrange them in a single layer in a container and freeze them for up to three months. Note that the texture and flavor of the potatoes may alter slightly after thawing.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 lbs. medium russet potatoes (about 4-5), peeled and thinly sliced (1/8 to 1/16 inch)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Special Tools
- Standard 12-cup muffin pan
- Mandoline slicer
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and apply nonstick spray to the muffin pan.
- In a small saucepan, combine cream, thyme, garlic, and nutmeg. Heat until it simmers, then remove from heat and discard thyme.
- Season potato slices with salt and pepper. Arrange them in stacks in the muffin cups, filling to the brim but not overflowing.
- Distribute the cream mixture over each potato stack, leaving the top few slices uncovered. Top with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
- Let the pan cool for 5 minutes after removing from the oven. Loosen the edges with a knife and transfer the stacks to a serving plate. Serve hot.