Gratin dauphinoise is a sinfully good, classic French dish that I wish I could eat everyday. Unfortunately my hips would never forgive such indulgence so this dish is reserved for high days and holidays only. Oh, and those days when you realise you ‘accidentally’ bought too much cream and need a way to use it up. I can’t only be me who does that, right?
As with many classic dishes simplicity is key; you could tart your gratin up with cheese, onions or bacon but I honestly don’t think that’s necessary. No, a gratin dauphinoise is beautiful in its plainness. It’s the little black dress of side dishes – one that every home cook should have in their repertoire. It’s the perfect side to slow-roast lamb or confit duck but can also play first fiddle alongside a crisp salad or ratatouille. If you have any leftovers – which is highly unlikely – it’s pretty darn good cold the next day, perhaps topped with a poached egg or sliced tomatoes.
A long, slow bake in a low oven guarantees beautifully tender potatoes that have soaked up an obscene amount of cream and absorbed the delicate flavours of garlic and thyme. The top layer of slices curl in the heat, their wafer-thin edges become crisp and golden providing a contrasting texture to the soft underside. Ooof, I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.
- 1kg potatoes (about 3 large)
- 1 clove garlic
- 30g butter
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 300ml double cream
- 300ml full-cream milk
- salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible. I cut mine by hand with a sharp knife but a mandolin would be handy.
Crush the garlic and rub over a 20 x 30cm oven proof dish. Smear half of the butter in the dish.
Layer a third of the potato slices in the dish. Sprinkle over a little thyme, salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes.
Warm the cream and milk until just starting to steam – don’t let it boil. Pour over the potatoes.
Dot the top of the gratin with the remaining butter and sprinkle with thyme. Bake at 160°C for and hour and a half until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden.