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Gratin Dauphinois

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This is a traditional French recipe that will spice up the humble spud and turn it into one of the main attractions of a carefully planned meal. Gratin Dauphinois (gra-tan doe-feen-wah) is quite flavoursome, so it is perfect to accompany a steak or sausages. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare; but this is one recipe where the end justifies the means.

The following recipe, like so many other favourites, has evolved over the centuries and is the result of countless generations of trial and error. Variations for the dish are provided at the end of the Entry for those who want to help the evolution of Gratin Dauphinois that little bit more...

Ingredients

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 250g Emmenthal cheese, grated
  • 6 Cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Whole milk (at least a pint)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.

  2. In an 10 x 8 x 3-inch deep oven-proof dish place a layer of potatoes and sprinkle on a layer of onions. Then add salt, garlic and pepper and top with a layer of the grated cheese.

  3. Repeat this until you reach the top of the dish and ensure that you end up with the cheese on top.

  4. Gently pour in the milk until it reaches the top layer of potatoes (but it shouldn't cover it).

  5. If your oven has a tendency to overheat, place a bit of cooking foil over the top, but ensure that some of the dish is exposed as the milk has to evaporate.

  6. Bake for 1 hour (if you've used foil, remove it from the dish after 45 minutes).

  7. If you see some liquid, then place the dish back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

  8. Serve.

Variations and Other Suggestions

  • If you want an even more garlicky taste, then rub butter in the bottom of the dish and then rub with a clove of garlic. This has the added advantage of giving the dish a wonderful buttery taste.

  • Emmenthal is a relatively strong cheese, so you may want to use a Cheddar, Monterey Jack or even mozzarella.

  • Some people replace milk with a bechamel sauce1. If you opt for this, watch your gratin carefully as there may not be enough liquid to cook the potatoes.

  • Gratin Dauphinois is also a great centre piece for a vegetarian meal. If you go for this option, try adding a sprinkling of nutmeg to one or two layers. This will help bring out the flavour of the cheese and the pepper.

1 A white sauce, prepared with butter and cream.

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