1 tbs unsalted butter at room temp 4 large russet potatoes 1 tbs fresh lemon juice 4 Anjou pears 2 cups heavy cream 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 fresh thyme sprigs kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Position one rack in the center of the oven and another in the top third and preheat oven to 375 F.Coat a 3 quart casserole with the butter. Fill two bowls with cold water.
Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/8 inch slices on a mandoline or with a sharp knife. Reserve the slices in one bowl of water.
Add lemon juice to the second bowl. Cut pears in half, peel, core and slice them into 1/8 inch slices on the mandoline or by hand; reserve in the cold water with lemon juice. The cold water will keep the potatoes and pears from getting brown, but if you work quickly enough, you can skip this step and go straight to assembling the dish.
Combine cream, garlic and thyme in a medium heavy saucepot, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat.
Drain potato and pear slices and pat them dry. Cover the bottom of the prepared casserole with about 1/4 of the potato slices, then about 1/3 of the pear slices and repeat, ending with potato--4 layers of potato and 3 of pear.
Remove thyme from the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour cream over the potato-pear layers. Cover with aluminum foil and bake on the center rack for about 40 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle the Parmesan over the dish. Return to the oven on the top rack and bake until the gratin is golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Note that the cream can be made ahead and refrigerated; reheat before using.
Also, I used Bosc pears, and they worked well.
This recipe serves 8.
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