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.
In Paris, we’ve had this simple but hearty breakfast a few times already, my Almost Croque Madame (almost because it’s sans béchamel sauce). It takes 15 minutes tops and here, I get to use the freshest Pain de campagne, real Jambon de Paris (aka thinly sliced smoked ham), and Gruyère from the wonderful cheese vendor I told you about a few days ago.
But last night, I tried something new: Gratin Dauphinois (Potato Gratin).
It’s similar to a dish that my mom made growing up, but simpler. My mom used to make a white sauce with butter, flour and milk, pour it over raw potatoes and bake. But this recipe, a slight riff on one I found from Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini, skips the white sauce by simmering the raw potatoes in milk for awhile before baking. It’s delicious! And so simple.
This was our main dish, served with a green salad and, of course, a bottle of red French wine. 🙂
- butter for greasing the baking dish
- 2 pounds waxy potatoes scrubbed and thinly sliced (don't rinse after slicing or you'll wash away the starch)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Generously coat the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
- In a large saucepan combine the sliced potatoes, milk and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat cook and stir 8-10 minutes, scraping the pan bottom often to prevent scorching, until milk is thick and creamy.
- Scoop out half of the potatoes and add to the baking dish; spread evenly and sprinkle with chives. Add remaining potatoes in an even layer and pour milk mixture over the top.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbly on the edges and golden brown on top. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.