About this recipe:Autumn mushrooms give this dish a hearty flavour. Substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stcok and this makes a perfect meal for that vegetarian girlfriend your son is bringing to Christmas dinner. The rest of the family will love it too.
675g mushrooms, chopped
675g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
salt and ground black pepper to taste
500ml chicken stock
1.3kg baking potatoes, scrubbed
200g grated Parmesan cheese
500ml double cream
500ml single cream
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
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Melt butter in a large pot over high heat. Add all mushrooms and saute until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary; saute 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Simmer until liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.
Position 1 rack in middle of the oven, and another rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat to 190 C / Gas mark 5. Butter a 22x33cm (9x13 in) baking dish.
Peel potatoes, and cut into .25 to .5cm slices. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in prepared dish, overlapping slightly. Top potatoes with half of the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over mushrooms. Repeat layering 1/3 of the potatoes, remaining mushroom mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Arrange remaining potatoes atop cheese.
Whisk double and single cream, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl to blend. Pour mixture over potatoes. Cover loosely with foil.
Place baking dish on middle rack in oven, and a baking tray on the bottom rack. Bake until potatoes are tender and liquid thickens, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover. Using metal spatula, press on potatoes to submerge. Sprinkle remaining cheese over potatoes. Bake until cheese melts and gratin is golden at edges, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes.
Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.