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IMG_7214After pommes frites (french fries), this is without a doubt the most famous potato dish in France. There are now many variations and additions to the original recipe but this is the classic. There is even quite some debate as to whether it should include cheese or not. Many purists claim that the traditional gratin dauphinois does not and should not include any cheese. Although anglophones tend to think of gratin to mean cheese, this is in fact not the case, and a gratin simply means a dish that is baked in the oven with cream. It is the cream that forms the nice brown crust on the top. So, I am not including cheese in my original recipe but do see the notes below. A gratin should be eaten as soon as it comes out the oven as it loses its creaminess and can become dry or even worse, almost watery and oily if reheated.
Serves 6


1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1 kg / 2 lbs russet or bintje potatoes
Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
375 ml / 1 1/2 cups heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F
Thoroughly rub the inside of a of gratin dish, (about 6-cups / 1 1/2 L) with the garlic cloves
Generously butter the dish
Peel the potatoes and cut them into very thin rounds
Arrange the potato slices in slightly overlapping rows in the dish
Sprinkle each layer with nutmeg, salt and pepper
Place the heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat
Pour the cream over the potatoes, making sure they are completely covered with the liquid
If you do not have enough cream to cover, add a bit of warm milk (you want the cream to just peek out of the edges of the pan)
Bake, uncovered for about 45 to 60 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork
Allow to sit for a few minutes
Serve hot, straight from the gratin dish

NOTE: variations
Cheese: add 1 cup emmental or gruyère to the top before baking
Blue cheese: add some blue cheese, roquefort, forme d’ambert to the cream before you heat it
Sweet potatoes / yams: add 1 or several in place of the russet
Spinach / chard / kale: sauté in a bit of butter and add to the dish
Onions: sauté and add
Mushrooms: sauté and add
Bacon: sauté and add
Celeriac: peel, slice into thin rounds and boil for 10 minutes in water then layer with potatoes