No, seriously. You won’t believe it.

Potato gratin is just one of those side dishes that calls to me all winter long. It goes with any protein, is easy to make, and can even be made ahead and reheated. But sometimes your basic gratin needs a little something extra. Something special. 

Why prunes are my secret ingredient in potato gratin

Okay, stay with me here. This isn't as crazy as it sounds. Sweet and savory are always interesting together. The one enhances the other and keeps every bit interesting and prevents the dish from becoming one-note. The recipe was inspired by an old-school French recipe that I heard about from a chef who remembered his French grandmother making something similar. 

The prunes melt into the middle layer of this gratin and absorb the cream so that their flavor leans more in a subtle, caramelized sweetness like a well-browned onion, instead of something fruity. This version of potato gratin goes brilliantly with pretty much anything but especially loves to be paired with pork or lamb. It is one of those dishes that surprise people in the most wonderful ways, and I often don't even mention the prunes until someone asks.

Give it a try this winter for a dish that is both comforting and new.

Potato Gratin
Credit: Getty / Diana Miller

How to make Potato Gratin with Prunes 

Here's all you need. Let the winter deliciousness begin!

Potato Gratin with Prunes

5 lbs. Yukon potatoes, peeled and sliced thin on mandolin (do not rinse)

2 leeks, white and light green, washed well and chopped

2 scallions, white and green, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

2 cups half and half

3 cups cream  

1 clove garlic, halved 


Salt and Pepper

1 cup prunes, quartered

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Rub a large gratin dish or casserole dish with the cut sides of the clove of garlic. Butter the dish liberally with 2 tablespoons of the butter. 

3. Sauté the leeks and scallions in 4 tablespoons of the butter until soft but not browned. Set aside.

4. Put potatoes in a large pot and add the half and half and the cream, the cut garlic clove, and a good grating of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes until the liquid is slightly thickened and potatoes become flexible but not cooked through.  

5. Ladle half of the potato mixture into the gratin dish, followed by the leek and scallions and sprinkle the prunes evenly over the top, and then the parsley. Add the rest of the potatoes. Fill with cream and half and half mixture just to the level of the potatoes. Discard the rest or save for soup.

6. Dot the top of the dish with remaining butter and bake 40 minutes to 1 hour. Cook until well browned and softened all the way through. The dish should be creamy and thick, not soupy.  You can hold in a 200° oven nearly indefinitely before serving!