Gratin Dauphenois con Queso

(Or Au Gratin Potatoes)

Yes, you read that right, Gratin Dauphenois con queso, I’m American, I have no trouble mixing languages, capisce? And luckily I don’t know Gordo Ramsay and DeeBaby Smith and it is very doubtful they read my website or I’m sure their heads would explode (not only at the name of the recipe but also at their new nicknames).

I think of Gratin Dauphenois con Queso as my mother-in-law, Gwyneth’s recipe – even though it isn’t – I’m saying it is. See, before we got married, my ex-husband told me (several times) his mother was a terrible cook. Since our courtship happened over thousands of miles, I didn’t have a chance to test this statement which was good for Mark as it would have been highly unlikely I would have moved over an ocean if this sentenced me to forcing down bad food during family holidays and get-togethers. I am not joking about that. No really, I’m not. Therefore, when I went to Gwyneth and Mike’s house after the engagement ring was on my finger and my house was sold in America, needless to say, I was filled with dread. Also, needless to say, my soon-to-be husband (then) was full of it. Gwyneth is a great cook, what’s more, my father-in-law Mike is too and what’s more, Gwyneth serves no meal without dessert. No joke. You gotta love that and I do.

Okay, so she doesn’t serve dessert after breakfast but who’s going to complain when you’re at her house, you stumble into the kitchen first thing in the morning, crack open a Diet Coke, sit at her kitchen table and she makes you breakfast to order. Yes, you read that right, my mother-in-law made me breakfast to order. No matter what I wanted, a bowl of oatmeal or a Full English, she made it just like I like it.

What’s that you say? Your mother-in-law doesn’t do that? Poor you. Mine did. YAY!

She also made us these potatoes and let’s just say, after I shoved them down my gullet, I fell in love.

Like all my recipes, these potatoes rock! You will adore these potatoes. But unlike many of my recipes, these potatoes are fiddly. They take time to prepare and loads of time to bake. But you won’t care. Trust me, you won’t. You make these once, you’ll carve an extra two hours out of your day to make these again and again (and again).

Ingredients

  • 1 pound potatoes – it really doesn’t matter what kind but I usually buy large-ish new potatoes because it cuts down on slicing but find some with thin skins
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 150 ml of milk
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bag grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • butter

How to do it…

Pre-heat oven to 300 degree F, 150 degree C.

Get out a (le Crueset, if you have it) gratin dish or a ceramic dish – rectangular or oval – and butter this well.

Okay, now, scrub your potatoes. If you are feeling energetic, you can also peel them. I do not do this. Peeling potatoes is not my favourite activity therefore I avoid it like the plague. If you have potatoes with thin skins, it won’t matter so don’t bother. If you hate skins, bother. Your choice.

Now, slice them. Do this as thin as you can. Yes, this takes time but I once didn’t take that time and the whole dish changed and not in a good way. Thin is good, chunky, bad. Once you have them sliced, rinse them well in cold water. Then take two clean kitchen (tea) towels, spread one out on your counter, shake the water off the potatoes and throw them on the towel. Spread the other towel on top and dry the potatoes. I know, pain in the behind but do it. Move the potatoes around between the towels to get all the moisture off that you can.

Next up, mince your garlic. You can use more or less, make it as garlicky as you like. I like garlic so I often use more than three cloves. But mince it fine.

Now, you get to put this puppy together.

First, place a layer of potatoes flat on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and a cheese. Do not use a lot of cheese, the operative word in that sentence is ‘sprinkle’. Then more potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, then more. You get what I’m saying. Keep going until you run out of potatoes.

Now, pour your cream and milk into one measuring jug, mix it together, then pour this over the potatoes.

You can get creative and maybe sprinkle Italian Seasoning on top. Or paprika. Or nutmeg. I don’t do it… I let the garlic and cheese do the talking with this.

Put some flecks/pats of butter around the top of the potatoes then slide this into the oven and bake for one and a half hours. Yes, that’s a long time and yes, it needs that time and yes, it’s worth it. The potatoes will be all soft and yummy cooked in the seasoning, cheese and cream and the top will be nice and buttery brown and the whole thing will knock your socks off!

It’s just as good the next day so even if you’re making it for two, it’s worth the time and fiddle.

Just a note: I’ve had a request to film myself making my recipes whilst floating around my kitchen in a negligee a la Nigella Lawson. Firstly, I don’t own a negligee. Secondly, I don’t float. Thirdly, I religiously take my makeup off to go to bed and no one needs to see that!

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