Gratin Dauphinois is not a traditional British food, it is in fact a classic French dish, but is one loved throughout these shores. This Gratin Dauphinois recipe is based on one by Elizabeth David. Elizabeth David was one of Britain's most famous food writers, so I feel less guilty including a French recipe here.
Elizabeth David did not write recipes in the system we are more familiar with today, an ingredient list followed by a method, instead the two are combined. As this recipe is extracted from the book, at Elizabeth David's Table (with kind permission of the publishers) is therefore written almost as it appears in the book. I have included an ingredient list merely for convenience.
- 500g / 1 lb of (floury, see note below) potatoes
- Garlic clove (peeled)
- 1 tablespoon butter (for greasing)
- Dash salt
- Dash pepper
- ½ pint / 300ml thick cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
Peel 500g of potatoes, and slice them into even rounds no thicker than a penny; this operation is very easy with the aid of a mandolin. Rinse them in cold water - this is very important - then shake them dry with in a cloth.
Put them in layers in a shallow earthenware dish which has been rubbed with garlic and well buttered. Season with pepper and salt. Pour 300 ml/ ½ pint of thick cream over them; strew with a little pieces of butter; cook them for 1 ½ hours in a low oven, 150 °C/gas 2, During the last 10 minutes turn the oven up fairly high to get a fine golden crust on the potatoes.
Serve in the dish in which they have been cooked.
The best way, in my view, of appreciating the charm of a gratin dauphinois is to present the dish entirely on its own, as a first course to precede grilled or plain roast meat and poultry, or a cold joint to be eaten with a simple green salad.
Notes About Making a Gratin Dauphinois
The Potatoes: Use a floury potato to make the gratin, the softness of these potatoes means they will soak up all the lovely, creamy, garlicky potatoes. Good floury potatoes include Desiree, Russet, Maris Piper and King Edwards.
Seasoning: Elizabeth David has little to say in the recipe about seasoning the gratin, so I will add my notes to the recipe (a little audacious I know). Potatoes when cooked in a gratin soak up salt, you may feel you are over-salting but that is hard to do with this dish, add what you feel would be normal for you and then a little extra.
Cream or Milk: Frankly, I would always do as Elizabeth David says, use cream. However, if for any reason you need to cut down a little then replace to half and half with milk, but never below that or the dish will lose its creaminess.