Thursday was the perfect day for making and eating Gratin Dauphinois: Rainy, cold, miserable. On days like that, when all you want to do is stay under the covers reading a good book, few things are as comforting as a warm bowl of cheesy, creamy potatoes.
Gratin Dauphinois is a French specialty that originated in the southern part of the French Alps. I've read conflicting things about the area of its origin, but what I can cobble together is that it used to be known as the Dauphine region (Grenoble was its main city), and is now roughly encompassed by the departments of Hautes-Alpes, Isère, and Drôme. The dish is a frequent accompaniment to meats, and you might see it offered as a side with the plat du jour next time you're in France. In fact, the best gratin I ever had was served alongside a half roast chicken at an otherwise unremarkable brasserie in Burgundy. I like my homemade version as well, which I've adapted from the cookbook At Home with the French Classics.
The good news is that Gratin Dauphinois is easy to make and sinfully delicious. The bad news is that this dish doesn’t do well as leftovers. I’ve found that reheating makes the potatoes too mushy and turns the cream into an unrecognizable oily substance. Beurk. But the other good news is that Gratin Dauphinois is so sinfully delicious you won’t have to worry about leftovers.
To make your own Gratin Dauphinois you'll need:
4 pounds large potatoes (about 8), cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Grated cheese to sprinkle on top. The cookbook recommends Gruyère or Emmenthaler. I've had luck with Parmesan.
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter a large baking dish.
2. Layer the sliced potatoes in the baking dish and sprinkle with the garlic, salt, and pepper.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and cream and bring to a boil. Pour over the layered potatoes.
4. Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top.
5. Bake in the middle of the over until the potatoes are brown and tender, 35 to 40 minutes.