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Herbes de Provence Potato Gratin

    3 pounds russet (Idaho) potatoes, peeled
    1 tablespoon butter, softened
    2 cups half-and-half
    2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups grated Gruyere, packed

  Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel and wash the potatoes and slice them
 really thinly using a plastic mandoline. Generously butter a 12-inch
 ovenproof baking or gratin dish (about 2 1/2 to 3-quarts).

  In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half, garlic cloves and
 herbes de Provence to a simmer. Season, to taste, with salt and
 pepper. Remove the garlic cloves. Set aside.

  Arrange the potatoes in an overlapping layer on the bottom of the
 dish. Season the layer generously with salt and pepper. Scatter
 lightly with some of the grated cheese. Make another potato and
 cheese layer, finishing with a most generous cheesing. Press the
 layers down gently. Pour the half-and-half mixture over the potato
 layers and fill the dish up to the top of the potatoes. Cover the
 dish loosely with foil so it is not touching the cheese on top and
 bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until
 the cheese is bubbly and nicely browned. Let cool for 20 to 30
 minutes before serving.