- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Whenever I ask my spouse what he would like for dinner, I know I’ll hear “steaks.” Although he doesn’t always say it, he hopes I’ll make potatoes, too.

My father loved the same combo, as do thousands of males across the country. So this year on Father’s Day, for my husband, who is a father and grandfather, I’m planning to grill sirloins, make a salad and prepare some type of potatoes. The latter is the one area of the menu where I’m hoping to inject a little creativity.

I’ll rub the steaks with coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and dried thyme before grilling, and I am going to toss arugula, bits of fried bacon and sliced grape tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette dressing.

For the all-important potato dish, however, I’ve created a gratin featuring not only potatoes, but fresh corn, as well. I quickly saute diced, unpeeled redskins; fresh scraped corn kernels; and chopped onions with a generous seasoning of fresh rosemary. They are then spread in a buttered baking dish.

A mixture of eggs, half-and-half and grated Gruyere cheese is poured over the vegetables, and the dish is baked until the custard is set and the top is golden brown.

I’ve made the gratin several times to adjust the seasonings, and I can’t wait to serve it Sunday. The potatoes and corn make an unexpected but delicious pairing. Because my husband ranks corn almost as high as spuds, I know he’ll love the combination.

Whether you’re honoring a dad, a grandfather or a paternal friend this special Sunday, this corn-and-potato gratin will make a tempting side dish for a home-cooked lunch or supper. It’s a fine partner to steaks, but it would be just as good with barbecued ribs, hamburgers, or grilled pork or lamb chops.

The golden gratin is also quite practical; it can be baked a day ahead and reheated when needed. A single recipe serves 6, but the recipe can be doubled or tripled if needed for larger celebrations.

Corn-and-potato gratin with rosemary

The total cooking time is 40 to 45 minutes. The gratin can be prepared a day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in 350-degree oven 25 minutes or longer, until heated through.

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan

4½ tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 to 4 ears corn)

2 cups (2/3 pound) redskin potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled and cut into 1/4- to ½-inch dice

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnish

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided

Butter a shallow 2-quart ovenproof baking dish. Heat 1½ tablespoons each butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add corn; saute, stirring, until light golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove corn from pan and set aside.

Return pan to medium heat, and add remaining 3 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, add diced potatoes and onion. Saute, stirring constantly, until vegetables are lightly browned and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in corn, rosemary, salt and cayenne.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and half-and-half. Add corn-and-potato mixture plus 1½ cups of the cheese and stir well to mix. Transfer to baking dish.

Bake on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes, or until gratin just begins to set. Remove pan from oven, and sprinkle top with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Return pan to oven, and continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until a knife inserted into middle of gratin comes out clean and top is slightly brown. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Garnish center of gratin with a few rosemary sprigs. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

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