They aren’t pretty.

But after a night of slightly too much celebration, this is the dish I want: Layers of thinly sliced potatoes, grated onions and garlic, and coarsely shredded cheddar cheese. They’re the scalloped potatoes of my childhood; a rustic riff on the gratins of my adulthood. They’re homey, they’re hot, and they’re loaded with the carbohydrates and — yes — fat that a body craves after excessive cheer.

You can make these a day ahead and have them waiting in the fridge to bake. You can whip them up as an accompaniment to slow-cooked pork or holiday ham (lest you think they’re just for morning afters). You can pair them with a crunchy salad to lighten the caloric load.

And you can change them up anyway you want. Play around with different herbs and different cheese combinations. Make them with Yukon golds or fingerlings. Add a splash of wine or vermouth to your milk or cream.

On second thought … play with that last suggestion judiciously. You may not want a hair of the dog with your morning-after spuds.

Cheesy Potato Gratin

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (the cutting blade of a food processor is perfect)
  • 1 small onion, peeled & shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2-3/4 pound coarsely grated cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk or cream

Toss the cheese with a spoonful or two of flour and set aside. Combine the onion and garlic and set aside.

Grease a 9-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, overlapping them slightly.
Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle 1/3 of the onion-garlic mixture atop the potatoes.
Sprinkle on 1/3 of the shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat layering the potatoes, onion & garlic, and cheese two more times.

Pour milk or cream (or half-and-half) over the casserole until it reaches about an inch up the sides of your baking dish.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove the foil and bake 15 more minutes, until the top is golden, the liquid is almost all evaporated, and the potatoes are tender.

In a perfect world, you’d wait 15 more minutes for everything to set. Thumb your nose at a perfect world … I like to dig right in.