Gratin Dauphinois – The One and Only Recipe

It is always funny to discover which French recipes have made their way out of France. For instance, I have always been surprised by the international prestige of Onion Soup, as I have myself eaten it only once in France, in a tourists trap. 

A few days ago, I have been pleasantly surprised to find the gratin dauphinois on the menu of a brewery in Northbrook, Illinois. I ignored that the fame of gratin dauphinois had crossed the ocean. I really like this dish which tastes like a sunday lunch with the whole family. So I was very curious to try it in Illinois, not that I already miss French gastronomy but just to see if the gratin dauphinois designation would name the same reality. When it arrives on our table, it looks like a real one! Except for one thing: cheese. There should be no cheese on the original recipe. But it’s ok, even French people make that mistake sometimes. It tasted amazingly good, the potatoes slices were thin enough, the garlic taste not too strong, I would have given a B- just because it was a bit undercooked and I prefer when potatoes melt in the mouth. Now, should you want to try it at home, here is the original recipe from the Dauphiné, located in the south east of France.

Gratin dauphinois_A la maison

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 2 lbs potatoes (In France we use starchy potatoes such as Mona Lisa ; here, I used organic russet potatoes and it works perfectly fine.)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream (with no added starch)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Butter for the baking dish
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Peel and crush the clove of garlic with the palm of your hand  or the flat part of a large knife. Put it into a pan, pour in the milk and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat. Butter a gratin dish.
  2. Preheat your oven to 340°F/170°C. Wash and peel the potatoes. Rinse them a last time before cutting them into thin slices (about 3mm, 1/8”). To save time and produce even slices, you can use a mandolin. I would recommend you to use this treacherous utensil only if you are a seasoned chef. Second warning: never wash the potatoes once they are cut, you would rinse the starch away and we need it for the gratin consistency.
  3. Arrange evenly a first layer of potato on the bottom of your baking dish. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Renew the operation until they are no potato left. In the pan, add the heavy whipping cream to the milk and take the garlic off. Pour the mixture over the potatoes until they are completely covered. Cover your gratin dish with an aluminium foil and cook in the oven for one hour. Then, take off the foil and cook for another hour. More time the gratin will cook, more melted the potatoes will be. (I am not sure about the grammar of this last sentence. I sound like Master Yoda!)

Accompany the gratin dauphinois with a roasted meat and a green salad. You can absolutely reheat the gratin in the following days, the better it will be! (Yoda? Again?)

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