The Gratin Dauphinoise is the ultimate French comfort food especially in the colder months. It's a perfect accompaniment for meat and poultry, requires very few ingredients and is simple to make.
Despite its name 'gratin' which normally implies melted or baked cheese, the traditional recipe dates back to the 17th century where cheese was rarely used in cooking, but this rich, creamy satisfying recipe requires only fresh cream.
2 kilograms Bintje potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 litre fresh cream
1 heaped tbsp salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pre-heat oven to 200C.
Using a large baking/casserole dish either metallic or ceramic, finely grate the garlic cloves into the dish evenly so the inner surface is sprinkled with garlic. This is important the garlic needs to be on the base of the dish and not in with the potatoes. This way it flavours the potatoes aromatically during the cooking time without having actual pieces of garlic throughout the potato gratin.
Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice them into rounds approximately 3–4 mm thick. And evenly layer and distribute them into the dish. Sprinkle the sea salt and nutmeg over the top. Lastly, pour the cream evenly over the top of the potatoes. By adding the cream last, it distributes the salt and nutmeg throughout.
Bake the potatoes in the oven for one hour, uncovered. The actual magic happens in the last 20 minutes of cooking when all the ingredients are at boiling temperature and the potatoes soften with the cream then develop a golden crust on the top. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then spend the next hour answering the front door as the neighbours pass by to find out what that divine smell is wafting from your kitchen...
Recipe originally sourced from Christian Dauve, head chef at the Auberge Rouge Bistro, Paris.
Rachel Bajada is an Australian food writer and French
cheese addict. Based in Paris, she sources and tests the best of modern and classic French food from talented chefs in top Paris restaurants and home kitchens across France. You can follow Rachel’s entertaining culinary adventures at her blog frenchforfoodies.com and on Twitter @RachelBajada