From My Kitchen to Yours: Potatoes Dauphinoise - No. 154
I finally wrote down a beloved recipe that’s been in my head for 30 years
Prayers and well wishes to the people of Florida and everyone in the path of Hurricane Ian. Be safe, and we are thinking of you!
For too many years to count, I’ve baked a potato gratin that everyone swoons over, but truth be told, it’s so dead easy, I’ve never shared the recipe.
It is a self-taught version of Potatoes Dauphinoise, or potatoes cooked in the style of the historic southeastern Dauphine region of France, which means they’re thinly sliced and contain cream, butter, and good cheese. Typically Gruyere, but I use Parmesan because it’s always in my fridge.
I’ve been spoiled because I don’t have to search for the recipe in a book or on my phone. It’s been in my head. And it’s a way of making potato gratin that I can show others in my family to assemble as well. Because up to now, I just looked at how many potatoes were in the house, guessed if that was enough to feed everyone, and then I found the dish that was the right size for the potatoes.
Pretty high level physics, I know.
What has worked so far is that I run through the method with anyone helping me prep for dinner or a party. As this recipe isn’t really a recipe and more a blueprint, and again, we are only using as many potatoes as I have in the house, then you can be flexible. It allows for creative flourishes, and my people LOVE flourishes.
For example, I might be haphazardly building my gratin with an eye on the clock to see how much time I still have to get dressed before people come over. My husband, on the other hand, is more meticulous, making sure he’s covered the entire surface area thoroughly. No backtracking, no asking for directions, he’s got this, and yes, it’s a little like traveling with someone who always knows he’s going in the right direction!
But there are no right or wrong ways with Potatoes Dauphinoise. It’s always fabulous. And my kids know how to make it as well. The great thing about having adult kids is everyone’s old enough use the mandoline without safety lectures, thank goodness.
Just 5 quick notes before you bake…
Potatoes. Baking or Russet potatoes seem to stack and stick to each other better than waxy red-skinned potatoes. But I do love the flavor of golden potatoes. If I don’t have enough baking or gold potatoes I will sub in a few red potatoes, which is what happened when I baked the gratin today. But I don’t like the entire gratin made from those heavy potatoes, and I think they are more prone to darkening, too. Save them for potato salad. And you can definitely add a layer of sweet potatoes or even onions to your Dauphinoise as well.
Mandoline. Don’t run out and buy one just to make this recipe. But if you like this recipe, put a mandoline on your holiday gift list. It makes things fast and the slices consistent and your gratin looks professional!
Dish. A 13- by 9-inch works or any of your favorite oven-to-table 3-quart pans will do. If the pan is extra-deep, allow extra baking time. Rub it with butter before layering.
Good cheese. Ideally, grated Parmigiano Reggiano or shredded Gryuere. I buy the Cello brand of Parm from Costco that comes in the two-pack and freeze one for future needs. It’s a really nice quality cheese for everyday baking, but if this is a big-deal side dish, splurge on the good stuff. You’re only using a cup!
Bake it ahead. For busy holiday meals, you can bake this up to two hours in advance, cover, and store at room temperature. Or, bake it the day ahead, chill, and just before reheating, cut it into portions and reheat. If you’re going to bake ahead, you might as well take advantage of the fact it slices best when cool.
And here we go with the recipe…Come to think of it, this should be the signature recipe of Between the Layers, and I bet you thought I was thinking of cake when I named this newsletter!