Layered Potatoes With Speck & Bechamel Sauce

I concocted this recipe about a decade ago in the Swiss Alps.  After having an unforgettable potato gratin in a restaurant, I had to recreate it for lunch in our rented chalet the following day.  I wasn't able to replicate the precise taste but I think I was able to come up with something delightfully good.

Everytime I serve this to the parties at home, this dish gets depleted fast.  Serve warm when the cheeses are still oozing out.  Just thinking about it makes me want to do this dish again!

The taste relies substantially on the speck or smoked ham that you use and the cheeses that you mix with it.   I only use the speck from the Austrian & Italian Tyrol but of course any other good smoked ham can go.

I don't usually use a specific cheese as I have the habit of using what is available in my refrigerator.  I have tried gorgonzola and some other Italian cheeses that I can't remember the names of anymore.  If ever I use more than one kind of cheese, I make sure that only one is strong because if the others have the same intensity, then there would be a big clash of tastes.  Watch out for those cheeses that change when cooked like Emmentaler which can sometimes become bitter when cooked.

To cut the potatoes very thinly, it helps to have a vegetable shaver or slicer.  Or also a peeler can be used.  You would want to attain the same thickness of a lasagna noodle.

Layered Potatoes With Speck & Bechamel Sauce

4 ramekins
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, shaved (very thin slices)
  • 200 ml. bechamel sauce
  • 100 g. speck, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • nutmeg, grated or powder
  • 140 g. soft & creamy parmesan cheese or gorgonzola or anything similar
  • Butter or extra virgin olive oil for oiling the ramekins
1. Rub some butter or oil in the ramekins.  Cover the bottom with a thin spread of bechamel sauce.  Sprinkle a thin layer of parmesan.
    2. Layer to this order:  potatoes, speck, soft cheese (about 3 little knobs that are spread out) bechamel sauce, parmesan cheese, a light sprinkling of nutmeg.  Repeat until you reach the top.

    3. The last layer should be the potatoes followed by bechamel sauce & parmesan cheese.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or put a little knob of butter at the center.   Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes.