Thursday, December 6, 2012

Potatoes Au Gratin (Gratin Dauphinois)


Potatoes Au Gratin (Gratin Dauphinois)

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This is the potato dish we love . . . a classic French dish (Dauphiné = a region in France, thus the name for their specialty dish: Dauphinois). It is traditionally baked in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic. Yum. And for the logophiles among you, gratin actually comes from the French word gratter (to scrape or grate like scrapings of bread or cheese). Additionally, “Le gratin” is a term meaning the “upper crust” of Parisian society.

This recipe is adapted from the one Jacques Pépin shares in EssentialPépin (great cookbook BTW). The cheese is optional depending on your mood. IMPORTANT: do not rinse or soak potatoes after slicing. You need the potato starch to remain on the potatoes to thicken the sauce later. Make enough so you have leftovers—they are even better than hot out of the oven.

Did you know? Gratin dishes aren’t just for potatoes. Celeriac, eggplant, butternut squash, leeks, cauliflower, fennel and even fish are common foods to cook as a gratin **.  In North America, Australia and New Zealand the dish is usually called scalloped potatoes.

1¾ lb potatoes**, preferably Yukon Gold (see other options above)
2½ C whole milk
2-3 garlic cloves
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
½-1 C grated Gruyère cheese
1 C heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 375º.  Combine milk, garlic, salt and pepper in large pan and set aside on stovetop.
  2. Do NOT rinse the sliced potatoes: peel potatoes and slice thinly using the slicing attachment of a food processor, or slice ¼ -inch thick by hand or with a mandoline.
  3. Immediately add sliced potatoes to pan full of milk so that they don’t discolor. Bring to a boil, stirring gently to separate the potato slices. The mixture will thicken from the potato starch as it comes to a boil.
  4. Using a ladle or a slotted spoon, transfer most of the cooked potatoes into a 6-cup gratin dish, then sprinkle with cheese, then top with remaining top-layer of potatoes. Pour milk on top, then pour the cream on top. Place the dish on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until half the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20-30 minutes before eating.

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