Yukon Gold Potato and Fennel Gratin

INGREDIENTS:4 lbs. (about 8) Washington Yukon Gold potatoes
1 fennel bulb, trimmed
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground pepper

Velouté Sauce:
¼ cup clarified butter
¼ cup flour
2½ cups chicken stock
as needed, salt and pepper
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
¼ cup minced chives (optional)
½ each sweet red and yellow peppers, seeded, cut in julienne strips DIRECTIONS:Preheat oven to 375°F. Scrub potatoes with vegetable brush under cold running water. Peel potatoes. With mandoline or very sharp knife, slice potatoes and fennel bulb very thin. In large bowl, toss potato and fennel slices with cream, cheese, salt and pepper. In buttered 9x13x2 inch baking dish, arrange potato/fennel mixture in an even layer. Cover with foil. Bake until cream is reduced and thickened, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is browned, about 5 minutes. Let stand briefly before serving.

Meanwhile, prepare Velouté sauce. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat clarified butter. Whisk in flour and cook until bubbly. Slowly whisk in stock. Heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce through fine mesh strainer. Stir in bacon and chives, if desired.

To serve: Cut in 3 inch x3 inch squares, trimming edges. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. Velouté sauce into center of each warmed serving plate. Place gratin square on sauce. Garnish with julienne pepper strips. SERVINGS:12 servingsFrom:Chef Jake Reagan, Ponti’s Restaurant, Seattle