I don’t know about you, but eating at steakhouses isn’t my wheelhouse. So when I go to one, I read every inch of the menu and agonize over just the right choice of steak and sides to maximize my experience! (And then I hate it if someone else orders something that looks better than what I have, lol!) And while I enjoy the steak, what makes it for me is the au gratin potatoes. My daughter takes after me because she was out for a special dinner with her sweetie, and what Jess raved about the next day wasn’t the steak, it was Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin.
So when Jess asked me about a recipe, I was tried to remember if I’d eaten at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I thought so, but then thought maybe it was Morton’s. It’s been decades, literally. So I pulled up the Ruth’s Chris menu and looked at dozens of Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin photos on Yelp & Trip Advisor. I think I gained 10 pounds just looking! Now, I want to go eat at Ruth’s Chris!! But instead, I’m just going to make Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat at home, and they’re going to be the perfect side for my Poor Man’s Mock Prime Rib.
About Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat:
I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to copycat recipes, so I started with an old recipe based on one by the famous Todd Wilbur and it was a killer potatoes au gratin, but it wasn’t Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin, and it didn’t have the three cheese combo described on the Ruth’s Chris menu. If you look at the photos on Yelp or Trip Advisor, below, you can see what you have is a very rich, creamy scalloped potato dish topped with a generous amount of cheese! Like a lot of cheese!
Since I’ve been throwing the terms around, the difference between Scalloped Potatoes and au Gratin potatoes, is that Scalloped Potatoes are cooked with a creamy sauce, and traditionally doesn’t have cheese, and Potatoes au Gratin are potatoes that are finished with cheese on the top. So the Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin is a hybrid – a combination of both dishes.
I don’t think a restaurant will start by baking raw potatoes; it takes too long, an hour to an hour and 20 minutes to bake. They’ll probably start with a par (partially) cooked potato and portion it out for individual orders. That made me think of a Cook’s Illustrated method where Scalloped Potatoes are cooked on the stove in a rich stock and cream mixture then baked off to melt the cheese. The Cook’s Illustrated method not only cooks the potatoes faster (they’re done in 30 minutes) but solves the problem of the potatoes giving off moisture as they’re baked and watering down the rich, creamy sauce. Those Cook’s Illustrated Scalloped potatoes are seriously the best Scalloped Potatoes ever! (Sorry Grandma!) But my Ruth’s Chris Copycat Potatoes beat out those Cook’s Illustrated Scalloped Potatoes hands down!
Making Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat:
I adapted and riffed and came up with my own, creamy Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat that’s simply divine using that stovetop to oven method. My Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat can be baked in individual dishes or one large casserole, which is what I’m guessing most people are going to want to do. I just had to try the individual portions, not just because that’s how Ruth’s Chris does their’s, but also because I just happened to have the same dishes they do…
My Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat is really super easy and surprisingly simple. You cook a little bit of onion and garlic until the onion softens and then add the stock, cream, seasonings, and potatoes. Simmer the potatoes, put in a casserole, top with cheese and bake a few minutes until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted. This knocks an hour off the standard cooking time and makes the potatoes uber creamy. Just simmer on a lower heat so the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch, the sauce doesn’t break and you don’t have to stir, which could break up the tender potatoes.
In order to get the cheese just right, you’ll want finely grated cheese. I just grated my own with my rotary grater and topped the potatoes with a ton of light fluffy cheese. If you don’t have a rotary grater, use the fine holes on a box or hand held grater. If you care, that is. It’s not going to affect the taste if you use cheese that has a larger grate, it just melts a little differently. Unsure of what cheeses Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse uses, I went with a common three cheese mix: mostly cheddar with a touch of provolone (or fontina) and Parmesan mix. It seemed to look pretty close to the pics I saw and the flavor is delish!
More Notes on Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat:
Cook’s Illustrated calls for potatoes cut 1/8 inch thick, which might have you rolling your eyes at their precise persnickety-ness. That’s the size that your standard food processor blade is going to cut, so that’s a super easy no-brainer. (Yeah, I measured mine and checked sizes online.) If you’re hand cutting, you might have to go thicker, but try for no more than 1/4″ thick or the potatoes might take much longer to cook through in the creamy stock mixture, which means it might scorch.
The potatoes can be peeled ahead and placed in water so they don’t brown but dry them before you use them if you put them in water. Don’t cut them ahead and don’t rinse or put in water after they’re cut. .The recipe requires the starch from the potato to thicken the cream and stock. Make sure to use a starchy potato like a russet, or the potatoes won’t have the needed starch.
My potatoes were just right at 18 minutes after my mixture came to a boil and I turned it down to a simmer, and that simmer should be just small little bubbles breaking through, not a big boil. Check it now and then but don’t stir. When mine were done (test several from different areas of the pot by piercing gently with a knife) and I pulled the potatoes out, there was a teensy little bit of browning on the bottom of the pot, so had they taken longer, they might have scorched. If you do get any scorching, leave it alone at the bottom of the pot when you transfer your potatoes to your casserole. It should be fine unless it’s burned it so badly it flavors whole pot.
If you’re doubling this recipe for a big dinner (maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas) I’d suggest using two pots to cook the potatoes in, although they can be baked in one larger casserole. It would take forever for a very large amount of potatoes and cream/stock mixture to cook and reduce if a doubled recipe is all in one huge pot. I haven’t tried yet, but I think this recipe could be made ahead and put in a casserole, refrigerated and then baked off the day you need it. Just use a large, shallow casserole, remove from the fridge about an hour ahead and bake for about 30 minutes; top with cheese in the last five minutes or so of baking.
Saving Money on Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat:
Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat is not your everyday recipe, and with the cream and three cups of cheese (12 ounces total) isn’t your cheapest dish, either! I priced it out a little under five dollars for the dish using sale priced ingredients and real Parmesan, not the stuff in the can. It will run a little more if you use a better cheddar, but don’t use something that’s so aged that it doesn’t melt well. At any price, this really is one of the BEST potato dishes I’ve ever made or ate.
Shop well for that cheese. Watch the grocery store specials and coupon deals; grocery store cheeses keep for weeks, unopened and can be frozen. Buy it when it’s cheap and use it as needed. Parmesan cheese can be a bit trickier to buy, since it’s a deli or “near” deli item. Stores sometimes have hang tags; coupons with long expiration dates and the producers sometimes have coupons. Save them until the cheese goes on sale.
Cream can be pricey, too, and is often on sale around holidays. Check Aldi and Costco for great prices that rival the prices you’ll find for grocery store specials. Cream with it’s higher fat content keeps well for weeks.
Potatoes are cheapest in larger bags, which may contain assorted sizes. Sort through them, use the larger ones for bakers or when size matters and the rest for dishes like this or mashed potatoes. Store in a cool, dark place (A loosely closed paper bag works great) away from onions.
Ruth's Chris Potatoes au Gratin Copycat
- 2 tablespoons butter plus additional to butter casserole dish
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream; add a little more if it doesn’t cover potatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (thickness of standard food processor slicing disc)
- 3 cups finely shredded cheese: 2 cups Cheddar (8 ounces), and 3/4’s cup (3 ounces) of either Fontina or Provolone along with 1/4 cup (1 ounce) Parmesan, mixed together
- about 1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt the butter, and sauté the onion over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, stock, and cream and bring to a good (not a boil) simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Gently stir.
Transfer the mixture to a buttered 8 x 8″ or equivalent sized baking dish (or about five to six individual casseroles). Top with the cheese and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 -15 minutes for the casserole (a little less for individual casseroles) or just until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Cool a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Note: Although our family loves this just as is, this is a very creamy dish with cream, potatoes and cheese, and just a little onion, one clove garlic and the bit of chicken stock for additional flavor. Be sure to adequately season with salt and pepper, and if you are a person who prefers a dish that is more highly flavored, feel free to increase the onion and/or garlic to taste.
If you’re looking for Holiday dishes or just something fun to make all in one place, stop by and see what everyone has bought to the party!