Since David moved in over a year ago, I have been half-heartedly promising him I would make him potato gratin/dauphinoise. The trouble is that when someone asks you for something over and over saying no becomes an obtuse, wilful fight to the death. For some reason, the thought of making it seemed like such an effort and perhaps I was terrified of not doing it justice.
Anyway, as soon as he began to forget that I’d promised, and on a wet Sunday afternoon, I thought I’d surprise him with it. Wet Sunday afternoons are the perfect time to make this because the effort of slicing the potato is a bit boring really. And watching the cream to make sure it doesn’t burn/boil over. But actually it was really easy and pretty quick to make and I wondered why I hadn’t got around to making it ages ago. If you have a mandolin (and subsequently no finger tips) or the slicy attachment on your Magimix, you’re probably smugly sitting atop a pile of sliced potato already and we’re all a bit envious. In the same way we’re envious of people who have linen cupboards with spare towels for when guests come, envious and a bit curmudgeonly. Slicing the potato wasn’t a particularly taxing skill and I found chopping a chunk from the side of each potato and then laying it on the flat side to slice prevented near finger chopping incidents.
This isn’t a low fat recipe, it isn’t healthy but it’s perfect when you’re tired and cold and you need the equivalent of a hug on a plate. I often witter on about comfort food but this is to me the ultimate in comfort food. Potato gratin (or dauphinoise, I never can remember the difference) is like curling up in bed in flannel pjs on clean sheets with a snuggly blanket and your favourite book. Make it and cry happy tears of joy.
a buttered gratin/lasagne dish
- 5 large sliced potatoes (waxy ones work best but don’t panic)
- 400ml double cream
- 2 crushed garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp thyme leaves (I only had dried left but they were surprisingly good)
- salt and pepper
- 50g gruyere, grated (you could use cheddar)
- With your thinly sliced potato, make a layer across the bottom of your buttered dish with slight overlaps between each potato.
- Scatter over a handful of gruyere and salt and pepper.
- In a saucepan over a low heat, warm the cream with the crushed garlic and the thyme. When this has thickened and is slightly bubbly, take from the heat and pour over the layer of potatoes.
- Create another layer of potato, cheese and salt and pepper and cover with cream.
- Repeat until the dish is full and scatter the top with the remaining gruyere.
- Bake in a preheated oven (190C) for 40 minutes until the cheese is golden and the potatoes are soft when a knife is inserted.
- If you can bear to leave it to cool for 10 minutes, it will be easier to serve as the cream and gruyere will set slightly.