There are about eleventy-million recipes out there for Gratin Dauphinois. Some say you should wash the slices of potato in water to remove some of the starch, others say that you should not do this under any circumstances. Some include chopped garlic, others wave a clove about over the gratin dish and nothing more. Some recipes call for waxy potatoes, others for floury ones... some exclude the cream (why? tell me, how could you?). I consulted both English and French recipe sites and my research has left me better acquainted with the humble spud, I can tell you. I interrogated all varieties and concluded that Maris Piper was the spud for the job, as the Potato Council told me that she's an all rounder who holds her shape (just like me, ha!). You can leave out the cheese if you want to, or replace it with Emmental. This dish serves three average eaters (based on a 5'4" female... me) or two strappin' lads (based on Ryoma).
1 lb (450 g) peeled waxy potatoes, such as Maris Piper or Charlotte
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream
5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
4½ oz (125g) Gruyère cheese
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
butter, for buttering the gratin dish
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C).
Firstly, slice the potatoes very, very thinly. Don't wash them. Use a clean tea cloth to dab them dry. Arrange a third of the potato slices in a well-buttered gratin dish (approx. 9 inches, oval and shallow), sprinkle over half of the chopped garlic and a third of the cheese, then season with black pepper and salt. Layer the second third of the potato slices on top, then the other half of the garlic and the second third of the cheese, then season with salt and pepper again. Layer the remainder of the potatoes on top, as neatly as possible.
Above: The final layer should be arranged as neatly as possible.
Next, mix the cream and milk together, pour it over the potatoes and sprinkle over the grated nutmeg. Add the remainder of the grated cheese over the surface and then bake on the highest shelf in the oven for 1½ hours. Test that your gratin is cooked through by driving a sharp knife through the centre. There should be little resistance.
Above: Just before going into the oven.
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