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Gratin Dauphinois is a simple but deeply savory and satisfying dish. Seasoned potato slices bubble away until they nearly melt in a thick, ultra creamy sauce. It’s the kind of decadent dish that’s worth a splurge on holidays and special occasions.
With this easy recipe, you’ll only need 7 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper), 20 minutes of active time, and a baking dish. No sauce making or stovetop required.
Nigel Slater, one of my favorite food writers, inspired this recipe. His book Appetite not only has mouthwatering photos, it's a sensory pleasure to read. In his Gratin Dauphinois recipe, which he titles "A Creamy Unctuous Potato Dish," he instructs readers to peel their potatoes as the skins "are totally at odds with the gratin's hedonistic overtones." I agree.
There are plenty of wonderful, lighter potato dishes, some with skins intact, a few of my favorites are: Fondant Potatoes, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Mashed Red Potatoes and Skillet Potatoes. But this dish is worth the indulgence. And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, it tastes even better heated up the next day.
Ingredients You Need to Make Gratin Dauphinois
- Russet Potatoes: Or other starchy potatoes (not waxy potatoes), peeled. Look for firm potatoes that have not started to sprout (an indication that they're old). And avoid any green-tinged potatoes.
- Butter: For buttering the baking dish.
- Garlic: Just one, large clove for rubbing the baking dish.
- Heavy Cream: For an even richer dish, you can substitute the milk for more heavy cream (also called double cream).
- Whole Milk
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper: Ideally freshly ground.
- Cheese: Gruyère cheese or Comté (French Swiss-type cheese) - optional.
- Chives: For garnish.
An Easy Recipe You Can Make Anywhere
I first made this dish on an anniversary trip to Paris in the compact, but well-equipped kitchen of our vacation rental.
For a few reasons, I prefer to rent an apartment when we travel instead of staying in a hotel. The most obvious reason is that it tends to be less expensive, not just in the nightly rate, but because we don’t eat out as often. And that’s the most important reason of all, the not eating out as often, because after about two days of it, I’m done.
I don’t cook anything complicated in these little apartments, but being able to cook makes me feel a little more at home. Especially in a place where you don’t speak the language, it’s nice to have a little part of your day feel familiar.
Gratin Dauphinois is similar to a dish that my mom made growing up, but richer. My mom used to make scalloped potatoes, just a white sauce with butter, flour and milk, poured over raw, sliced potatoes and baked. But this recipe skips the white sauce by baking the raw potatoes in rich blend of heavy cream and milk (then topped with cheese if you like). It’s the ultimate potato side dish! And so simple.
A Note on Slicing Potatoes
You want your potato slices to be uniformly thin (~⅛-inch thick). A sharp knife will work, but if you have a mandoline, this is a great time to use it. A ~⅛-inch (3mm) food processor slicing disc is also a great option if you have one.
This dish, using the gratin technique, originated in the Dauphiné region of south-eastern France.
Dauphinois (meaning "from Dauphiné" in French) potatoes are a French side dish of thinly sliced raw potatoes layered with cream, milk, and sometimes Gruyère cheese, and baked. Lyonnaise (meaning "from Lyon" in French) potatoes are also a French dish of layered potatoes, but they are pan-fried in butter with onions and parsley.
How to Make Gratin Dauphinois
First, preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter a 1 ½-quart baking dish (or casserole dish or gratin dish). Rub sides and bottom of dish with cut side of a halved clove of garlic. in a glass measuring pitcher, whisk together heavy cream (double cream), and milk. Add one layer of potato slices to bottom of baking dish and season with salt and pepper; top with ⅓ of cream mixture. Repeat layers twice, finishing with cream mixture.
Finally, bake 70 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown with some crispy edges. Top with cheese if desired and bake 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Gratin Dauphinois (Potato Gratin)
- 1 large garlic clove halved
- butter for greasing the baking dish
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 pounds russet potatoes or other starchy potato, peeled and sliced into ⅛-inch thick rounds (see recipe note #1)
- kosher salt 2 teaspoons or more
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 ounces shredded gruyere cheese optional (or more, see recipe note #3)
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- With cut sides of garlic clove, firmly rub the bottom and sides of a 1 ½-quart baking dish. Then generously coat bottom and sides with butter.
- In a pitcher, whisk together cream and milk. (A 4-cup glass measuring pitcher works great for this.)
- Layer ⅓ of potato slices into prepared baking dish. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour over ⅓ of the cream mixture. Repeat with 2 remaining layers, finishing with cream mixture that should just cover the potatoes.
- Bake 70 minutes, until bubbly on the edges and golden brown on top (see recipe note #2). Sprinkle with cheese if using and bake 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with chives and serve.
- A mandoline or food processor slicing disc makes quick work of this.
- To protect against spills, place the baking dish on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet before placing in the oven. If gratin is getting too brown, cover lightly with foil.
- You can skip the cheese in this gratin. Or, if you prefer a cheesy gratin, add an additional 4 ounces, for 6 ounces total. Sprinkle the first 2 layers of raw, seasoned potato slices with 2 ounces each before baking. Then add the final 2 ounces to melt during the last 10 minutes of baking.