September 27th, 2010
Potatoes Dauphinoise are probably my favourite type of potato dish, though I’ve always been fond of most potato recipes. This cooking technique, where something is browned in the oven or under a grill, using breadcrumbs, sauce, cheese etc., is called au gratin – dauphinoise means of the Dauphiné region of France (where this variation on au gratin comes from).
I’ve seen dozens of recipes for dauphinoise – I think this is down to the fact that the recipe varies a lot in France and that there are quite similar styles for cooking potatoes in other French regions. You generally use milk and cream and if you are feeling very indulgent cheese and eggs can be added for more flavour. Of course the Dauphinois probably throw their hands up in horror at the thought of les rosbifs tampering with their traditional fare – tant pis!
Pommes à la Dauphinoise recipe:
6 pieces of garlic
450 ml crème fraiche (or double cream)
200 ml milk
250 g mature cheddar (optional)
1 kilo of Desirée Potatoes (or other waxy, fluffy potatoes)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
a little grated nutmeg
Rub butter into your baking dish to stop any sticking – my dish is perfect for this quantity – it measures 30 x 21 cm and is about 5 cm deep. Chop the garlic finely and add it to the milk, crème fraiche and grated nutmeg in a saucepan. Don’t overdo the nutmeg, it’s narcotic – a lot will make you high, but will generally give you headaches and sickness at around about the same time (so no substitute for banana skins). Double cream is the official ingredient here, but I swapped it for crème fraiche because I like the sour flavour it gives to the dish. Warm up the contents of the pan but don’t bring it all the way to the boil. Season well. Once warm and stirred, turn off the gas and let it rest.
Meanwhile, peel and slice the potatoes into 5 mm slices and grate your cheese. I can’t see much point in using mild cheese – I used some quite sharp Blarleath Farmhouse Mature, which had been in the fridge for a while and needed using up (it had a real tang).
Arrange your potato slices in the baking dish (about 6 or 7 layers) with some of the milk/crème fraiche mixture and a sprinkle of cheese on each layer. The last layer should be just above the liquid level in the dish, but you should pour the last of the mixture and cheese on top. A final grind of black pepper is also good.
Put your baking dish into a preheated oven at about 180º C. This will take about one and a half – two hours to cook. A nice golden crust will form on top of the potatoes and almost all of the liquid will be absorbed. Test with a fork to see that the potatoes are cooked through.
Pommes à la Daupinoise is delicious served with steak, but I’m sure it’s fantastic with most meat and fish. The above recipe should serve about 4 people, though I like it so much I ate half the dish!