Cheesy Potato and Pancetta Bake


If this recipe understands one thing, it's that there's no sense pulling any punches with a potato bake.

Cheesy potato and pancetta bake on tabletop with serving spoon.
Photo: Victor Protasio
Hands On Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs

Blanket waxy potatoes—like red new potatoes or gold fingerlings—with layers of melted fontina cheese and a cream-infused, pancetta-onion mixture that redefines decadence. It's a simpler version of a classic gratin that still delivers on flavor and richness, making it perfect for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That being said, it is also at home on the weeknight dinner table. Try it with roasted chicken and green beans, or alongside grilled steak and steamed kale.


  • 2 pounds waxy potatoes (such as small red potatoes)

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 ounces chopped pancetta (1½ cups)

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream

  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)


  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium; simmer potatoes until just tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain; let cool for 15 minutes. Cut into ¾-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with melted butter, several grinds of pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pancetta in a medium skillet. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy and fat has rendered, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt to skillet; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Return pancetta to skillet and add wine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high; cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cream and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.

  4. Arrange half of potatoes in a broiler-safe 8-inch square baking dish. Top with half of pancetta-onion mixture and half of cheese. Repeat layering with remaining potatoes, pancetta-onion mixture, and cheese.

  5. Bake until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil (do not remove casserole from oven). Broil until browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes.

Assemble the dish up to one day in advance; cover and chill. Let come to room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

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