Adapted from Simon Hopkinson's recipe for Gratin de Jabron, this bistro dish is the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, or a steak dinner. The butter and cream (clearly this is not a low fat recipe,) infused with garlic and herbs, cloak the potatoes in a rich, velvety veil of deliciousness. Grab a spoon, and dig in.
Simon steams his spuds to retain more of the potato flavor, which I think is a brilliant technique. I use my rice cooker for this job. Just make sure not to cook the potatoes all the way through. Check them after 15 minutes, as potatoes may not all be equal in size. You want them to resist a little, since they're going into the oven for a spell. —mrslarkin
Steam the whole potatoes until almost cooked through. Let cool. Peel and slice thickly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, place the butter, garlic, thyme and bay leaves over medium/low heat. The garlic should not color at all. When butter has melted, turn off heat.
In a large baking dish with 2" high sides (mine is a 10" x 13" oval), spoon the garlic pieces into the dish, spreading them out. Save the butter for the next step.
Layer the sliced potatoes over the garlic. Spoon the remaining melted butter over the potatoes, discarding the bay leaves and thyme branch. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the milk and cream together and pour over the potatoes. Another sprinkle of salt and pepper, optional. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden brown and bubbly, and the milk and cream have thickened.