If you’re looking for a truly indulgent and absolutely delicious side dish, a creamy Gratin Dauphinois is exactly what you need. Hailing from the French region of Dauphiné, this classic dish features thinly sliced potatoes, lashings of cream, and a hint of garlic, all baked to perfection in a rich, golden crust. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any dinner party or special occasion, and best of all; it’s surprisingly easy to make.
What is Gratin Dauphinios?
This French classic, named after the Dauphiné region of France, is the ultimate creamy and cheesy potato bake that will certainly impress your dinner guests. It is made with simple ingredients of potatoes, cream, garlic and cheese.
To create a Gratin Dauphinoise, you start by thinly slicing potatoes and layering them with a garlic-infused cream mixture. Some traditional recipes do not include cheese, but adding some – such as Gruyère – enhances the richness even further. As you slow-cook the dish, the flavours meld, and the potatoes become tender and irresistibly delicious.
To achieve the perfect, soft and melting potato texture, it’s essential to maintain a low, slow cooking process. This method ensures the flavours infuse deeply into the potatoes, making them incredibly moreish and delightful.
Preparing the Potatoes
When making Creamy Gratin Dauphinois, it is essential to properly prepare the potatoes. This ensures even cooking, an ideal texture, and a beautiful presentation. Let’s begin with two important steps: Washing and Peeling and Slicing Techniques.
Washing and Peeling
First, select the right type of potatoes. You may use russet, Yukon gold, or starchy potatoes like Sebago, Maris Piper, and King Edward, depending on your preference. For a more unique twist, you can also try Charlotte or Belle de Fontenay potatoes. Regardless of your choice, you should ensure that they are properly washed.
Wash your potatoes thoroughly under running water. Use a vegetable brush to scrub away any dirt and debris. Next, use a sharp peeler to remove the potato skins with even strokes. When peeling, try to minimise waste and maintain the natural potato shape as much as possible.
After washing and peeling, it’s time for precision slicing to achieve the desired consistency and cooking time in your Gratin Dauphinois. A mandolin or mandoline slicer is highly recommended for this task, as it ensures uniformly thin slices which cook evenly.
Place your chosen slicing tool on a stable surface, and carefully adjust the thickness settings. For Gratin Dauphinois, aim for slices around 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Securely hold the potato and swipe it across the sharp blade to create thin, consistent slices.
Take your time and be cautious while using the mandolin or mandoline slicer – always remember to use the safety guard to protect your fingers. If you don’t have a slicing tool, you can also use a sharp knife, but make sure to keep the slices as evenly as possible for proper cooking and presentation.
Once you have sliced your potatoes, you’re ready to proceed with the next steps in creating a delicious Creamy Gratin Dauphinois.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use alternatives to heavy cream when making a gratin dauphinois. Some options include using a blend of milk and butter or replacing some of the creams with crème fraiche or sour cream. This helps achieve the desired creamy texture while potentially reducing the fat and calorie content of your dish.
Cream can curdle when it’s heated at high temperatures or for prolonged periods. To prevent curdling, it’s crucial to heat the cream gently and keep the oven temperature moderate, typically around 160C (330F). Also, avoid using acidic ingredients as they can cause the cream to curdle.
For a gratin dauphinois, using starchy potatoes such as Russet or Yukon Gold is ideal. These types hold their shape well when cooked and have a creamy texture that complements the dish. Avoid waxy potatoes, such as red or fingerling potatoes, as they won’t result in the desired texture for your gratin.
A potato bake typically refers to any baked potato dish that features slices or chunks of potato in a cream or cheese sauce. It can include a wide variety of ingredients, such as onions, bacon, or other vegetables, depending on the recipe. Gratin dauphinois is a specific type of potato bake that originates from France and traditionally uses thinly sliced potatoes, cream, and Gruyere cheese.
Gratin dauphinois can be made with or without cheese, depending on your preferences. Traditional recipes often use Gruyere cheese, but you can also make a delicious gratin dauphinois without it if you prefer. Keep in mind that making the dish without cheese will yield a slightly different flavour and texture that may be less rich and indulgent but still creamy.
How to make a creamy French potato gratin
Assembling the Gratin Dauphinois
To assemble your creamy Gratin Dauphinois, first, preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan (330°F). Make sure to butter a baking dish generously. This will help prevent the potatoes from sticking and also add flavour to the gratin. Next, prepare your potatoes by peeling them and slicing them thinly, preferably with a mandoline. Remember to place the potato slices immediately into a mixture of cream and garlic to avoid browning.
After slicing the potatoes, arrange a layer at the bottom of your buttered baking dish. It’s important not to overlap the potato slices too much, as this could lead to uneven cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Pour a little of the cream mixture over the potatoes, then sprinkle the grated cheese. Continue layering the potatoes, cream, and cheese, and add salt and pepper, then finish with a layer of cheese.
Bake the gratin in your preheated oven for approximately 1.5 hours or until the potatoes are tender and the top is bubbly and golden. When your Gratin Dauphinois is ready, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Remember, these creamy layers of potatoes, garlic, cream, butter, and cheese are not only delicious but wonderfully indulgent. Proper comfort food!
Pairing with Proteins
Gratin Dauphinois is a versatile dish that pairs well with various proteins. You can’t go wrong with serving it alongside a juicy steak or tender pork dish. The creaminess of the potatoes complements the rich flavours of these meats. For lighter options, consider pairing with roasted chicken or flaky fish, such as cod or salmon. During festive occasions, Gratin Dauphinois makes an excellent side dish to serve with ham.
Complementary Side Dishes
To balance out the rich and creamy Gratin Dauphinois, it’s essential to include some lighter, vibrant side dishes on your plate. A fresh salad with crisp greens and a tangy dressing is an ideal choice for cutting through the richness of the potatoes. If you prefer cooked vegetables, consider serving steamed or sautéed chard to bring a slightly bitter yet delicious counterpart to the creamy gratin. Make sure to select side dishes that enhance your main protein choices without overwhelming them.
Selecting the right wine to complement your Gratin Dauphinois and protein dish enhances the dining experience. A smooth, full-bodied Chardonnay is an excellent choice, as its buttery, rich flavours will blend well with the potatoes’ creaminess and the meat’s savoury taste. If you opt for lighter proteins such as fish or chicken, consider a crisp white wine with bright acidity to balance the dish’s richness.
Storage and Reheating Tips
After enjoying your creamy Gratin Dauphinois, store any leftovers properly to ensure their quality and taste. Allow the potato bake to cool down to room temperature before transferring it into a suitable airtight container or wrapping it with cling film. Keep your casserole in the refrigerator, where it can be safely stored for up to 3 days.
When it’s time to enjoy your leftover Gratin Dauphinois, you have a couple of reheating options: either using the oven or the stovetop.
Oven: Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C (370°F). Unwrap the casserole from the cling film, if used, or remove the lid from the container. Place the potato bake in an oven-safe dish, and cover it with aluminium foil. This will help retain the moisture in the dish and prevent it from drying out. Reheat for approximately 15-20 minutes until the dish is warmed through and the cheese is melted.
Microwave: Transfer the Gratin Dauphinois into a microwavable dish. Heat for about 4 minutes until hot all the way through.
Mary Berry’s Creamy Gratin Dauphinois (Easy Potato Bake)
- Butter for greasing
- 150 ml Single Cream (¼ pint)
- 150 ml Double Cream (heavy) (¼ pint)
- 1 lrg Clove of Garlic (Crushed)
- 1 kg Potatoes (2lb)
- 125 g Gruyere Cheese (4 oz grated)
- Lightly butter a shallow gratin dish. Put the single cream and double creams into a bowl, add the garlic, and stir to mix.
- Preheat the oven to 160℃/140℃fan/Gas 3/330℉.
- Prepare your potatoes by peeling them and slicing them thinly, preferably with a mandoline or food processor.
- After slicing the potatoes, arrange a layer at the bottom of your buttered baking dish. It’s important not to overlap the potato slices too much, as this could lead to uneven cooking.
- Season with salt and pepper. Pour a little of the cream mixture over the potatoes, then sprinkle the grated cheese. Continue layering the potatoes, cream, and cheese, add salt and pepper, and then finish with a layer of cheese.
- Bake for 1½hours or until the potatoes are tender and the topping is golden brown.