Sunday, December 04, 2011

Potato Gratin -- Cheat's Dauphinoise

When it comes to cooking at home, I am not much of a traditionalist and I am a big fan of short cuts and time-savers.
A real, pedigree gratin dauphinois is made in the South East of France with impossibly thin slivers of raw spuds, slathered in milk and cream and baked in the oven for an hour or more with delicious results. In the neighbouring Savoie they make it even better by adding cheese.
At home in East London, I do not possess a mandolin -- or much patience. This means that on the few occasions when I have tried raw potato bakes (such as the gratin dauphinois, or its stock-based cousin, potatoes boulangere), they have come out burnt on the top and al-dente in the middle.
My salvation came in the unlikely source of a Russian magazine, which suggested cooking the potatoes in a mixture of cream and cream first (a method I letter heard is also favoured by Nigella).
Serve with some greens (spinach, salad, etc), either on its own or as an accompaniment to beef (roast, steak or even carpaccio) or gammon.

Serves 2-4, depending on appetites and how much other stuff you serve with it
600g potatoes
1/2 pint milk
200g double cream (or creme fraiche)
garlic, nutmeg, pepper, salt
200g cheese (Gruyere or Beaufort for Savoyard authenticity, but cheddar also works)

Slice the potatoes as thinly as your patience and kitchen implements allow. Preheat oven to 120 degrees.
Mix the milk and the cream in a pan, add chopped garlic and potatoes, season with nutmeg and pepper. Bring to the boil. Add potatoes, turn down heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, layer out the potatoes into a gratin dish.
Pour over the milk/cream and top with grated cheese. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden with melted cheesy goodness.
Bon appétit.

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