In the summer, the mini-town of Nathrop brings rafters and kayakers and hikers to it's valley. Stuck between two slightly larger towns, Nathrop doesn't have much to offer aside from easy access to the Arkansas River. We didn't go in the summer though, at least not often. In the winter time Nathrop becomes far less: off the beaten path, to say the least, and frozen over at an altitude of 7,680 feet. This is when we visited Nathrop: in it's slow, snow dusted, crisp-air months.
We would bring groceries from the next town over, stock the fridge, and pile into the cabin. My mom and I would cook a Thanksgiving meal fit for 5, even though we were only 3. It would be snowing outside,and icy winds would billow through the valley, but inside it was all biscuits, turkey, and gravy, oh my! We clipped recipes from magazines and made do with what ingredients we could find in the small mountain grocer.
Between the biscuits, one November we made potato stacks. Like scalloped potatoes, thin slices were baked in a creamy sauce and served hot. Our stacks had a touch of thyme, and crisped up along the edges.
I'm not sure what made me remember those potatoes recently, but I did, and then began wondering how wonderful it would be to use sweet potatoes and Creamy Toscano cheese. Oliver says I should name these "Little Stacks of Joy," but I was worried that name would be to vague. So here you have them: the most joyful potato stacks you'll ever find.
Yields: 12 | Total Time:
- 2 sweet potatoes (Look for ones that are thinner in diameter so they fit into a muffin pan when sliced. We LOVE using Japanese sweet potatoes for this, but regular sweets work too)
- 1 tablespoon butter + more for greasing your pan
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Salt & pepper
- A few dashes of nutmeg
- A few dashes of dried ground sage
- Spring of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup shredded Creamy Toscano cheese or similar hard cheese (I buy the Syrah variety at Trader Joe’s)
- Grease a muffin pan and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Wash the sweet potatoes, and roughly peel them. Using a mandolin or the slicing attachment of your food processor, slice the sweet potatoes into thin rounds. Stack the slices in the greased muffin pan.
- In a small sauce pan, heat cream and butter in a small sauce pan until butter is melted. Whisk together, and then divide evenly among each stack of potatoes (pour about 2 teaspoons over each). Season liberally with salt, then sprinkle with pepper, nutmeg, and sage. Sprinkle about half of the cheese over the potatoes, reserving the other half for later.
- Place pan in oven and bake until cooked through, 40-50 minutes for a standard muffin pan (longer for a deeper muffin pan).
- Once potatoes are cooked through and edges are crisping, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Top with remaining cheese so that it melts, and a few fresh thyme leaves.