I love a good Gratin Dauphinois, I mean, what’s not to like about potatoes and cream with a hint of garlic and a beautiful melted cheese on top? It is one of my favourite comfort foods and works brilliantly as a side to most types of roast meat, especially beef. I usually serve it as a treat as part of a ‘favourites’ dinner so it always ends up being served with steak, a blue cheese sauce and a simple green salad with shallot vinaigrette (see last week’s recipe to make your own vinaigrette).
‘Gratin’ refers to the browned topping, usually made of either breadcrumbs or melted cheese. In this case, we are definitely NOT putting breadcrumbs on top of potatoes, because that would be wrong.
- 800g floury potatoes like Maris Piper
- 200 mls milk
- 200 mls crème fraîche (I like crème fraîche because it is the nearest to the original French taste, but single or double cream both work fine)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 150g grated cheese (ideally gruyère or emmental but I’ve had to make do with cheddar and it’s perfectly suitable if not quite the same – just make sure it is a cheese that melts well)
- 100 g butter
- salt, pepper and nutmeg
- Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Peel the potatoes, wash and dry them, and cut them into thin slices. Place the potatoes into a large bowl.
- Peel the garlic cloves and crush them over the potatoes; add the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Mix well together.
- Butter an oven-proof dish generously and spread the potatoes and milk in it. If you are using crème fraîche, add it in between layers of potatoes; if using single or double cream, you can just pour it over the top.
- Scatter the grated cheese on top, add a few knobs of butter and put in the oven for 1 hour.
- Serve hot.
Note 1: if you like the smell and taste of garlic but don’t actually want to eat any, here’s a neat trick. Don’t rub your dish with butter, instead, cut a clove of garlic in half and rub each half over the dish instead. It works just as well to stop the food sticking and infuses the dish with garlic without leaving the taste in your mouth.
Note 2: If you’re wondering why the knife on the ingredients’ photo is white, that is because it is a ceramic knife. I’ve only seen ceramic knives in France, where they are popular and readily available in cookery shops and supermarkets. The best thing about them is that they never become dull, as I discovered a couple of years ago when I gained a new scar.