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?

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 MM 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 was a great cook, what’s more, my father-in-law Mike was too and what’s more, Gwyneth used to serve no meal without dessert. No joke. You gotta love that and I did.

Okay, so she didn’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 made 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 liked 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.

[Melancholy note to this: upon editing this page years after I wrote it, both Mike and Gwyneth have sadly passed…but I love it that this memory remains for me, and like so many that involve them, it’s a good one that I can give to you. Anyway…onward…]

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).

Gratin Dauphenois con Queso

  • Prep Time

    30 min
  • Cook Time

    1hr 30 min
  • Serves

    4-6
Gratin Dauphenois con Queso

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Potatoes*
  • 150 ml Double/Heavy Cream
  • 150 ml Milk
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 bag Grated Cheddar Cheese, or grate your own and find the real English kind in the specialty cheese section if you can
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter

How to do it…

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300F, 150C.
  2. Get out a (le Crueset, if you have it) gratin dish or a ceramic dish - rectangular or oval - and butter this well.
  3. Okay, now, scrub your potatoes. If you're feeling energetic, you can also peel them. I do not do this. Peeling potatoes is not my favorite 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Now, you get to put this puppy together!
  7. 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.
  8. Now, pour your cream and milk into one measuring jug, mix it together, then pour this over the potatoes.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Notes

*Potatoes matter...in the UK, I used Desiree. In the US, we don't have the dizzying cornucopia of potato options as they do on the British Isles, so I buy large-ish new potatoes because it cuts down on slicing, but find some with thin skins. Other recipes will suggest russet, me no likey those hefty, dense potatoes in this recipe. So try to go fancy if you can. That said, it doesn't suck if you can't, this dish will always be delicious, it's just that nuance less yummy.

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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