Gratin Dauphinois

An elegant and classic French dish – The beauty of this dish, not only can you feed a large group of guests, but you can also prepare it in advance, it gets even better. This is a wonderful dish to prepare in the fall when you can indulge in heavier food so to speak. I remember at Hotel School, we spent almost a month talking about potatoes and their different cooking methods. Not only did we learn different ways to prepare them which are endless, but also the various cuts which, according to their size can change the name of the recipe. We learned to not only steam them or boil them, but to cook them in butter, olive oil, goose fat which so tasty, but also bake them individually in aluminum foil. We spent a week learning how to braise them in the oven, with or without cream. The beauty of this humble vegetable, is that although it is so simple, you can elevate it to an elegant and ever so satisfying dish. Potatoes always brings me home with my family of 12 brothers and sisters and the amount of potatoes we went through every week. This was our go-to vegetable at home and although we had it so often, we never got tired of it. On Fridays, my mother would also make french fries… God Bless her soul ! As good Catholics, we abstained from meat, so poor Mother had to start peeling potatoes at 10 o’clock to be ready for lunch … Of course, there were never enough french fries for our group of growing kids and had to clearly define our territories to ensure none would disappear from our plates. Strangely enough, we don’t make french fries at home anymore, as we they are so easily accessible and sometimes even better. But there are so many other lost recipes for potatoes, which we should revive. Here is one we should make more often. Gratin Dauphinois which consist of parboiled then baked potatoes in milk and a little cream. Covered with Emmenthal cheese and grilled. Delicious !

INGREDIENTS
1.5 Kg. of Yukon potatoes – peeled and sliced thinly – (I use a Mandoline slicer for consistency. They should be about 1/2 in.thick)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 Cups Milk
1 Cup Heavy cream
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 Bay leaf
Ground Pepper to taste
85 Gr. Grated Gruyere Cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, with the rack in the centre. Generously butter a 22 X 30 cm glass baking dish. Peel potatoes, and slice into 1/2 cm thick and place the slices in a bowl of cold water as you go to prevent discoloration.
In a medium saucepan, combine garlic, milk, heavy cream, salt, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, cook for 5 minutes and pour into prepared baking dish. Discard the bay leaf.
Drain the potatoes in a colander, and transfer to your baking dish. Using a large spoon, toss potatoes with milk mixture pressing down gently to distribute the potato slices evenly. Season with pepper and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Place in oven; bake until potatoes can be pierced with a knife and the top is brown, about 40 minutes.
Let the potatoes rest for about 10 minutes – The potatoes will absorb all the liquid and they won’t be runny when you serve them.
I use a cookie cutter and serve a round of potatoes for each guest. Of course, you don’t discard the trimmings… and keep them for the following day.

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