Why Sunny Anderson Says Potatoes Au Gratin Are A Perfect Holiday Dish

A lot of chefs are going to throw holiday recipes at you that are delicious and yet very, very time-consuming, but Sunny Anderson has got your back with her potatoes au gratin. Cooking during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas is quite the balancing act. As much thought and effort goes into shopping and preparing all your dishes, the most difficult part may be looking around the kitchen just before game time and wondering how you will cook all this stuff. So while we might normally labor over the bechamel for a perfectly creamy mac and cheese or pluck fresh herbs for roasted carrots, during the holidays, simplicity gets valued over perfection, and dishes that taste great with minimal fussiness become the stars.

Potatoes au gratin checks a lot of the boxes for a holiday side. It's a cheesy, easy, comforting classic and a simple concept that can be made in bulk to feed a whole room of people. A French term, MasterClass says au gratin is the technique of baking a dish with cheese and breadcrumbs, and the potato version may be the most beloved, with layers of cheese creating an oozy, melty deliciousness that will have every dinner guest fighting over the serving spoon. Sunny Anderson is no stranger to upgrading Thanksgiving dishes, but there are no tricks here, as the Food Network star knows there are a few reasons why just basic potatoes au gratin works so well at the holidays.

Potatoes au gratin are easy and flexible enough to throw in the oven anytime

Oven space is at a premium during the holidays, so the ability to cook multiple dishes at once is a huge advantage. As Sunny Anderson said, her potatoes au gratin recipe can be cooked at a range of temperatures and still turn out great, which means it's flexible enough to share the oven with almost anything, no matter the heat (via The Rachel Ray Show). After getting some sage-steeped cream and cheese, the potatoes go in the oven for 40 minutes covered and then 20 minutes uncovered to develop some browning. That's all it takes to turn out what may end up being the most popular dish in a meal that is all about the sides.

Another big plus for potatoes au gratin is that it works with a variety of cheeses. While Anderson's recipe calls for Manchego, she says mozzarella, Gouda, or, of course, the classic Gruyere work great. Potatoes au gratin comes together in a matter of minutes, can be cooked alongside anything, and works well reheated, so it can even be made ahead of time. Between your new efficient workflow and not having to worry about tracking down some specific cheese types, you may just squeeze enough free time out of your potatoes au gratin that you can actually take a breath and enjoy a sip of wine. But just for a minute before you dive headfirst into making the pies, of course.