“What’s he going to tell us how to cook next, toast?”, I hear you say with incredulity. “I mean, I thought he’d taken the biscuit with spaghetti bolognese, but now this! Who does he bloody think he is?”
Nevertheless, I think this is the kind of thing that many people look at and assume it isn’t for them. That it seems a bit too restauranty, or somehow difficult, or they see the amount of cream in it and consider it too decadent, or something like that, but I think Gratin Dauphinois is something everyone, bar possibly vegans, should be cooking for themselves and their families. It doesn’t need to be often, maybe four times a year is enough, mostly when it’s cold or rainy, but it must be done. I won’t stand for anyone missing it. And the kicker is, it’s EASY. The hardest part is preparing the potatoes, and that isn’t hard at all.
I’ve left the recipe intentionally vague, cause I don’t know what size oven dish you have or how many you’re feeding, but in this case, it really doesn’t matter; it only contains storecupboard ingredients and making too much is a very happy mistake to make indeed.
Eat it with roasted meat or, indeed, on its own with a nice salad and something cold in a glass.
You will need:
- Some floury potatoes such as King Edward (my favourites), Maris Piper, Desiree, Asterix or Russet.
- Double cream (non UK people: anything more than 40% fat)
- Parmesan cheese, or any good hard cheese, like Grana Padano, Pecorino or good Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Peel your potatoes. Once you have enough to cover the bottom of the dish you’ll be baking in. Cut them into thin, even slices of about 2mm, either with a knife if you’re feeling like the practice or have no other option, or a mandolin (I have one on the side of my box grater which is ideal, even I always abuse my thumb somewhat.)
Put the slices on a bowl and crush or grate in as much garlic as you feel like. I used about four cloves for my kilo-ish of potatoes, but I really like garlic, so do what you want. Mix the slices and the garlic together with your hands. Season generously with salt and pepper, and mix again.
Pour the lot into a buttered baking dish (ceramic is my choice, but use what you have, it’d honestly work in a cake tin) with no especial care, then pour over enough cream to come level with the surface of the potatoes. Push down hard all over with your (clean) hand to make sure the cream gets into all the little nooks and crannies and everything’s as compressed as possible.
Grate over the cheese on a fine grater, and put the dish in the oven. Forget about it for an hour, then have a look. If you can slide a skewer or knife in effortlessly, it’s done. If your meat has a way to go, turn the oven down to 100°C and let it sit in there til you’re ready. The extra time won’t hurt.
Leave any leftovers in the dish in the fridge and reheat the following day, covered in foil, for half an hour in a 180°C oven. They’ll probably be even better.