From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love to serve these potatoes when I need something special to accompany a main course for which there is no gravy. Gratin Dauphinois is a Frenchified version of scalloped potatoes, and while the dish sounds elegant, its history can be traced to French peasant kitchens. This gratin is truly easy to make and the version I've finally claimed as my own was developed by Jacques Pepin for the Gourmet Cookbook. The trick to this dish lies in the way the potatoes are handled. They have to be paper thin, and because I can't consistently hand cut slices to his specifications, I use a mandoline to perform the task. You'll probably want to use one as well. Once sliced, the potatoes are warmed in cream and then transferred to a gratin pan to finish cooking in the oven. The type of potato you use also factors into the success of this dish. Potatoes are usually classified as boilers or bakers, but there is another category that falls between the two. The difference between the various potato types depends on the amount and type of starch they contain. Bakers are starchy and have a dry, mealy texture. They are ideal for baking, mashing and French fries. The boilers are also called waxy potatoes. They have a thin, smooth skin and an almost waxy flesh. They are relatively high in moisture and sugar, but low in starch, and, because they hold their shape, they are ideal to use for roasting and work well in soups, casseroles and potato salad. Then there are the all-purpose potatoes we want to use in recipes such as this. Potatoes, such as the Yukon Gold, are moister than baking potatoes, hold together when boiled and are particularly well-suited for use in gratins. It is important not to overcook this dish. I've found 45 minutes to be perfect in my oven. At that point there is still a bit of liquid in the pan and the potatoes are tender when speared with the tip of a knife. If the potatoes are allowed to sit for about 15 minutes they will soak up the last of the cream and be perfect for serving. Try to eat these the day you make them. I think they become quite ordinary if they are kept overnight. I know those of you who try these potatoes will love them. Here's how they are made.
Gratin Dauphinois...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Jacques Pepin
2-1/2 lbs boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
3-1/2 cups half-and-half
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère
1) Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a 2-1/2 to 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.
2) Peel potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer and transfer to a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Add half-and-half, garlic, salt, and pepper and bring just to a boil over moderate heat. Pour potato mixture into buttered dish, distributing potatoes evenly. Sprinkle nutmeg and cheese over top.
3) Bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings.
One Year Ago Today: Coconut Custard Pie
Two Years Ago Today: Chocolate Rosette Cookies
Three Years Ago Today: Peppermint Ice Cream and Ice Cream Sandwiches