Friday, December 08, 2006

Potato Gratin like in the Alps

What? December already! Where did time go? I'm in shock. This fall has been so busy at work and otherwise. I guess I'd better post a new recipe before you guys give up on me...

Here is a very yummy potato gratin called "gratin dauphinois", very famous in the Grenoble region where it comes from (an hour east of Lyon, at the foot of the Alps). Purists would argue that this isn't a "true" gratin dauphinois because I am using cheese, which would make this dish a "gratin savoyard" (from Savoie region, just north of Dauphiné) but whatever. It tastes great!



Serves 6
Baking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 3 pounds (1.5 kg) Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) Gruyère cheese (either Emmental or Comté –Comté being stronger, or Beaufort if you can find some –it's very expensive in the US)
  • 8 oz. (225 g) crème fraîche (french cultured cream), or heavy cream if you can't find crème fraîche
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (20 cL) milk
  • salt and black pepper
  • butter (just enough to butter the dish –no oil please!)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  1. Peel the potatoes. Slice them thinly (about 1/8") and place in water to remove excess starch.
  2. Butter a deep oven-safe dish (like this one). Peel and press the garlic cloves or chop them very finely. Spread at the bottom of the dish.
  3. Preheat your oven at 390F (200C).
  4. Dry the potato slices in a clean cotton cloth. Place a first layer of potato slices in the dish. Season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  5. Add a new layer of potato and proceed as described above. Repeat until all the potatoes are layered. Make sure to keep 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche for later. Finish with cheese.
  6. Pour the milk on the potatoes.
  7. Bake for 1 hour at 390F.
  8. Beat the egg with the remaining crème fraîche and pour this mix on the gratin. Bake for 15 more minutes.

This is ideal with some crunchy, delicately bitter frisée salad. In Lyon we add poached eggs, garlic croutons and sizzling hot, diced bacon ("les lardons") to this salad, served with vinaigrette dressing.
Alternatively you could sprinkle a few whole or half walnuts on the frisée and serve it with vinaigrette dressing made of colza or sunflower oil (i.e. a not very flavored oil) plus 1 tablespoon of walnut oil.