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.
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. —Merrill Stubbs
- Serves 6
1 1/2 cups
unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds
Yukon Gold potatoes
Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the milk in a small heavy saucepan and peel and smash one of the garlic cloves. Add it to the pot and then heat the milk gently until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat and let steep while you continue with the recipe.
- Peel the second garlic clove, cut it in half and rub the cut side around the inside of an oval gratin dish about 9 inches long and 2 inches deep. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter over the inside of the baking dish.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I use a mandoline to get them nice and even), laying the slices on a kitchen towel to drain. Layer about a third of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, fanning them into concentric, overlapping circles. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and sprinkle a third of the cheese over them. Repeat with two more layers of potatoes, salt and pepper and cheese, making the top layer as neat and tidy as you can.
- Remove the garlic clove from the hot milk and pour the milk evenly over the potatoes. Dot the top of the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of butter and bake the gratin for about 30 minutes, until it's browned and bubbly. Let the potatoes cool for 5 minutes before serving.