Gratins are great. We made this for Thanksgiving and it did not let us down.
2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese (1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Butter the inside of a 10 x 15 x 2-inch (10 cup) baking dish.
Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half length-wise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.
Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandolin. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyere, salt, and pepper. Add the sautéed fennel and onion and mix well.
Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and ½ cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 ½ hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.