Gratin Dauphinois, woodfired style
Potatoes must be the ultimate vegetable – versatile in so many ways. Cooking them in a gratin is a great way to use up some of the falling heat in your woodfired oven and creates meltingly tender layers of potatoes with a golden brown topping. They can be layered up with lots of ingredients –
- Potatoes boulangere – layered with onions and cooked in chicken stock
- Mediterranean potato bake – with courgettes, onions, peppers and basil
- Pan Haggerty – from the north-east of England, layered with cheddar cheese, onions and butter
- And what we’re talking about today – gratin dauphinois, potatoes layered with cream, nutmeg & garlic; delicious!
What potatoes to use?
The best potatoes to use for a gratin are a floury variety such as Maris Piper, King Edward, Desirée. If it’s high summer though, you may only get waxier potatoes as the floury ones won’t have been harvested yet. That’s fine, they just won’t be quite so melting and will hold their shape a bit better.
This is such a delicious dish and really is the star of the meal so serve with something simple like a roast chicken or woodfired steak with some steamed broccoli or cabbage if it’s a side. Or serve your gorgeously garlicky and creamy potatoes with a green salad and a tomato salad if you’re keeping it as the main.
What you need for 4-6 –
1.5kg floury potatoes, sliced thinly (we just wash them and leave the skin on)
1 large tub double (heavy) cream – about 600ml
2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
1tsp each salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
Mississippi 4-5 so around 200C and falling, no fire or embers
How to make your Gratin Dauphinois –
- If you read lots of recipes for gratin dauphinois, there’s lots of carefully layering of the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients and pouring over the cream at the end.
- To be honest, we’ve found it’s much easier to put the cream in a large bowl with the garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix that altogether.
- Then add the potato slices and mix them up making sure they are all well coated with the creamy mixture. Easiest to do this with your hands and if you don’t like getting messy hands, just wear a pair of disposable gloves.
- Put all of the potatoes with the creamy mixture into an ovenproof dish – we use a ceramic one but a roasting tin is fine, whatever you have.
- Then arrange the top layer of the potatoes neatly so they are overlapping and looking smart. No-one will know that the potatoes below aren’t quite so orderly! Press the potatoes down again with your hands then wash your hands.
- Use a piece of kitchen paper to wipe any creamy spillages from the edge of the dish (if you can get them into the dish without making a mess then do let us know; we definitely can’t!)
- Then put the dish into the oven, shutting the door, and come back in 30 minutes or so to check what’s going on. If it’s browning up too quickly, just cover the dish with a piece of foil and then come back in a couple of hours when the potatoes should be golden brown on top, bubbling nicely and tender right through when you put in a sharp knife.
- Put the dish on the table and serve up!
- Use creme fraiche if you haven’t got enough double cream; just let it down to the consistency of double cream with some milk.
- You can use white pepper if you don’t like the speckles of ground black pepper.
- You could add a bit of grated cheese to the top of the dish before baking if you like – Parmesan or Gruyere would both be fab.
- You can make the gratin in advance and reheat when you want it. You can even freeze it and then defrost and reheat when it’s needed.
- If you haven’t got a woodfired oven, just cook it in your regular oven at about 170C.
Our friend Suzie at Michael Sutton’s Cellar highly recommends a French Pinot Noir for this one – lightly chilled, it’s got the acidity to cut through the cream and it goes well with the garlic. Thanks Suzie – sounds fab!
Hope you like it!
This is one of our favourite potato dishes taking the humble spud to a whole new level. Do try it and let us know how you get on; we love to hear from you.
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