POTATO GRATIN DAUPHINOIS WITH WALNUTS
If you ask anyone if there is a speciality from the Dauphinois region where I grew up, everyone will answer: yes, the gratin, the Gratin Dauphinois!
Cooked in the oven, it is composed of several thin layers of sliced potatoes, with creme nestled in between. Like most famous dishes, the Gratin Dauphinois is often imitated but seldom meets the quality of the original Gratin Dauphinois recipe.
There are key elements to respect here, such as using double cream, avoiding milk and most definitely eggs. This will result in an inferior gratin that will be less unctuous and tender inside. Proscribe most definitely cheese, no matter what shape and form, as it will alter the natural cream’s taste and this would make it a Gratin Savoyard! Talking about taking left turns, I have added to this otherwise traditional recipe, another speciality of the region, walnuts. I would argue that it adds a lovely nutty flavour to the tasty dish. A delight!
In the established Dauphinois families, not so long ago, when the lady of the house came carrying the sizzling golden dish of gratin to the table, children started singing a simple rhyme:
“Un gratin, A gratin,
C’est certain, For certain,
Est un beau festin, Is a great feast,
Que toute ménagère Dauphinoise, That any Dauphinois cook,
Sait faire… Knows how to make…”
Now your turn!
1.2kg Floury Potatoes, such as King Edward, Marris Piper or Desiree
800ml Double Cream,
15g Salted Butter
3 Garlic Cloves,
Half a Turnip, (optional)
1 Whole Nutmeg,
Small Bunch of Thyme,
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper,
THE GRATIN DAUPHINOIS
- Start by roughly choping the walnuts into a coarse crumb as evenly as possible. A food processor should do this in a few pulses.
- Place a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the chopped walnuts to the pan and gently toast for 3-4 minutes until starting to smell nutty and fragrant. Make sure not to burn them. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Select a large gratin dish, we used a 30cm x 25cm rectangular dish. Halve the garlic and rub the cut side all over the inside of the dish until the garlic becomes ‘dry’. Now, rub the dish with the turnip half and discard. Add the halved garlic cloves to a small saucepan. Generously butter the gratin dish.
- Preheat the oven to 180Cº (Fan).
- Next, add the cream into the saucepan with the garlic halves and bring to a gentle simmer, allowing infusing the cream with the garlic.
- Peel the potatoes and then cut into fine slices approximately 2-3mm. A food processor fitted with a slicing disk will do this in minutes.
- Now, add the sliced potatoes into the cream mixture and blanch gently for about 1 minute before removing to a separate bowl. You will need to do this in batches.
TIP – Briefly adding the potatoes to the cream will help the sliced potatoes from going brown as you assemble the gratin. If you work very quickly, you may find you can skip this step.
- Add a thin layer of the cream to the base of the gratin dish. Then, lay a single layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping each other like scales. Add a grating of nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper. Pour a thin layer of the cream over the potatoes and then scatter over a small amount of the walnuts (about 2-3 tbsp). Repeat until all the potatoes are used up. Do not add any walnuts to the final layer as these will burn.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for an hour, or until the potatoes are tender and completely cooked.
- Finally, once cooked, leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving.