Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)

- Merrill

For me, Easter provides an excuse to make a big lunch for family and friends, and mine almost always hinges on roast leg of lamb. This year, when planning my side dishes, I was inspired by this foodpickle thread to revisit a classic from my cooking school days: pommes dauphinoise, also known as potatoes au gratin. I had to make this dish countless times over the course of my 9-months at Le Cordon Bleu in London, to the point that I could probably have made it in my sleep. It's simple but its charms are many, and I'm glad I've returned it to my table after all these years.

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Many people insist on heavy cream for a gratin, but I'm loyal to the method my cooking instructors taught me, which is to use garlic-infused whole milk. With the cheese and the starch of the potatoes, the dish is rich enough, and I find that cream mutes the delicate flavor of the Gruyere and garlic. If you have a mandoline I recommend using it for this recipe. The thinner and more evenly you slice your potatoes, the more delicate -- and lovely -- the finished gratin will be.

Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)

Serves 6

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • Salt and pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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  • ksb
  • svbooker
  • mjlandry
  • jrnavlag
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


ksb December 27, 2015
What a huge disappointment!!
I followed the recipe and cooked the potatoes at 425 for 30 minutes.
After resting for 10 minutes the potatoes were almost raw and the sauce
watery! Christmas potatoes.........horrible.
svbooker May 8, 2011
What a beautiful picture - both in terms of the potatoes and the copper gratin dish. I have a set of three of these gratin dishes that were wedding presents a long, long time ago. No longer have the husband, but these dishes are still among my favorite things and so well-used that the copper is coming through the nickel (?) lining on all of them. Does anyone know if they can be re-lined and who would do that type of work? I'm in the Baltimore-Washington area, but could send them elsewhere. Thank you for any help!
JohnArt2000 May 8, 2011
I have had things retinned at ABERCROMBIE in Wheaton, MD/Silver Spring. They can do the job quickly and are affordable. But the best was when I took my pots to Bridge Kitchenware in NYC. It was a better job and wildly expensive.
svbooker May 9, 2011
John - thank you so much! I'm afraid I'll have to go the affordable route, but very happy to know it can be done. I appreciate that you took the time to let me know about this.
mjlandry May 8, 2011
These look great! I love Potatoes AU Gratin. I often Make an Edna Lewis casserole recipe that is just potatoes, chicken broth, melted butter and S&P. It is wonderful. Merrill I will definitely try your version with the garlic infused milk. The picture makes me want to jump into my computer and try it immediately!
jrnavlag May 6, 2011
As I was thought, Pommes Dauphinoise uses no cheese. Just the milk and cream. Adding cheese makes it Gratin Forezien.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
Interesting. In cooking school, we were taught the version with cheese. Funny how "definitive" traditional dishes like this one often vary quite a bit, depending on who's doing the defining!
XXX X. May 5, 2011
In an issue of Vogue from October 1998 p. 241 (I think) is a recipe for a Gratin Dauphinois that uses no cheese to create the gratin effect. Makes a very romantic dinner as is with a salad and champagne to compliment the gratin. I think the article was written by Jeffery Steingarten but have lost the first page of the article. Have tinkered with the recipe a bit but the recipe as written is a find.
msitter May 5, 2011
We made Patricia Well's Chanteduc gratin, which uses tomatoes and onions instead of cream and cheese, to lighten Easter dinner. It was fine, but we missed our regular cheese gratin, quite similar to yours. What else did you serve with if for Easter dinner? Thanks.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
We had leg of lamb with mint sauce, Meg's Marinated Mushrooms, Amanda's sauteed asparagus, and Midge's Burnt Caramel Pudding for dessert. It worked out nicely!
hardlikearmour May 8, 2011
Merrill, I'm honored you included my recipe in your Easter dinner!
porchapples May 4, 2011
Adaptation for parsnips anyone?
Susige May 4, 2011
I made this last night but substituted goat cheese because that's what I had in my refrigerator. It was absolutely delicious. And I was too lazy to get out my mandoline, so I practiced my knife skills. ;0
CathyB May 4, 2011
I made a similar dish for Easter this year. It was from the Gourmet cookbook (the giant yellow one). It used milk, but put the potatoes in the milk on the stovetop to heat up. Then you dumped the whole thing in the gratin dish and topped it with cheese. It wasn't as pretty as yours, but it was still very tasty.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
A lot of people cook the potatoes in milk first, but I have always found that it gets a little mushy (for my taste, at least) that way.
boulangere May 3, 2011
Is this a first cousin to Pommes Anna? I inherited, among other things, my mother's recipe card file and notebooks. My mother was afraid of, sort of in order, cholesterol and semi-truck-trailers. I know, long story. But that she would have collected a recipe for Pommes Anna, which of course she never made, is a very tantalizing thought. She was the saddest person I ever knew, but I love the idea that she at least thought of the comforts food could offer.
mrslarkin May 3, 2011
Maybe the reason why I never liked Potatoes Au Gratin is because of the cloying richness of heavy cream? Thanks for this one, Merrill! Looks yummy.
wssmom May 3, 2011
OK, made this tonight to accompany grilled pork chops, and in a word -- AMAZING!!! I have never been able to successfully make potato gratin (which is a sad thing to admit when you're Irish) but using milk instead of cream made the whole difference. Thank you for a new mainstay!!! p.s. used the brand new mandoline to slice the potatoes and was inordinately proud of the result!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
So glad it worked out!
Victoria C. May 3, 2011
This does sound wonderful, and I will definitely try it. It will be different from the one I usually make because I use Lydie Marshall's (wonderful) recipe, which calls for heavy cream and no cheese.
Sasha (. May 3, 2011
My favorite part is the browned bit, so the thinner the better.. (better ratio). Yours looks perfect - what a pan!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
I totally agree.
gingerroot May 3, 2011
Simply gorgeous and oh, so good.
hardlikearmour May 3, 2011
I'm one of the weirdos who doesn't really like potatoes au gratin. Now I'm just wondering if I've not had good potatoes au gratin. I will definitely give them another try using your recipe, Merrill!
Greenstuff May 3, 2011
When we were growing up, we called them "potatoes all rotten." Now we love them. Great ingredients?
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
Thanks, guys!
fiveandspice May 3, 2011
Mmmm, lovely. Looks like reason number 5 bajillion that I really do need to get a mandoline one of these days.
Greenstuff May 3, 2011
As I said in the foodpickle discussion, I usually go the heavy cream route, but I can imagine Merrill and lot of other people preferring milk. Even lighter, also delicious gratins are made with broth. In Madeleine Kammon's wonderful book, Savoie she recommends either heavy cream or broth, just cautioning against crème fraîche, which she says doesn't take too well to slow, steady heat (she opts for a lower oven than Merrill). I think that one of the great things about gratins is that you can pretty much do what you like, and it will be delicious. Even better if you have a pan like Merrill's!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
Another of my standbys is a gratin with broth, cheese and woodsy herbs like rosemary and thyme.
ChefJune May 3, 2011
Potato Gratin is on my list of 10 top foods ever. I brought back a recipe from a bouchon in Lyon 19 years ago that I think is the best I've ever had. :) Waldy Malouf, chef/owner at Beacon in New York, makes an exemplary one as well. A French friend thought he must be French!

Your pan is awesome. I covet a copper gratin dish!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 8, 2011
It's Amanda's, but she gave me the same one as a present last year, and I love it!
inpatskitchen May 3, 2011
So beautiful!!