Recipe: Classic Potato Gratin

Recipe courtesy of Yummy Potatoes: 65 Downright Delicious Recipes by Marlena Spieler

Published by Chronicle Books

Gratin Girl’s Potatoes: Classic Potato Gratin

This potato gratin is absolutely classic, and simplicity itself: no onions, no cheese topping, just potatoes, bathed in butter and cream, with a bit of garlic for oomph. It’s the sort of thing you just might find as an enticing slab next to roasted or stewed meat, chicken, or duck, in a wintertime Parisian bistro.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for the casserole
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or chives, for garnish
  1. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl with cold water to cover. Leave for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Remove from the cloudy water, and dry with a clean towel.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  3. Butter the bottom and sides of an earthenware baking casserole, about 3 1/2 inches deep, and large enough to fit all the potatoes (very large). If you have no round ceramic pan, use an ordinary baking pan. Sprinkle about half the garlic along the edges of the buttered sides of the pan.

  4. Make a layer of potatoes, dot with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a few spoonfuls of cream, scatter a little garlic on top, then repeat in this fashion until all the potatoes have been used. End the top with a dabbing of butter, the last slosh of cream, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

  5. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until the potatoes are very tender and have absorbed all the cream; the top of the potatoes should be golden brown with darker brown splotches here and there. This is a very rustic dish and by its very nature is very forgiving time wise; if you need more time, lower the oven’s heat, and to speed the cooking up and give it a nice dark topping, raise the heat to 400°F for the last 10 to 15 minutes.

  6. Serve in its own casserole, or dish up individual portions, sprinkling each with a little chopped fresh parsley or chives.

  • Potato Gratin with Herbs: Once in a bistro I ate a similar gratin sprinkled with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon and chervil in addition to the chives, as well as a teaspoon or two of pink peppercorns. It was lovely!

  • Dublin Coddle: This is a sort of gratin layered with sausages and bacon, and cooked with broth instead of cream: Layer the potatoes with about 12 ounces of Irish sausages (or British bangers) cut into bite-sized pieces, and about 12 ounces of good lean Irish bacon, diced, or French lardons, along with a couple of onions, thinly sliced. Cover with a cup or two of beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (or water plus a bouillon cube or two), and sprinkle with a little thyme. Cover and bake for an hour. Remove the cover, dot the top with butter, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes or until the tops of the potatoes are crusty and browned and the potatoes underneath creamy and tender. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

  • Roquefort Potato Gratin: Do as they (sometimes) do in France’s Southwest: add a big jolt of Roquefort or another salty, briny, pungent, and delicious cheese to your gratin. Layer about 6 ounces in between the slices of potato, butter, garlic, and cream.

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