Fried, boiled, baked, roasted, mashed… You’d think you know every way to make the potatoes. But have you heard of authentic Gratin Dauphinois?
Yep, that’s right. That’s a French name, a French recipe, and we’re gonna make it today.
But let’s get back to 1788, shall we?
Every Sunday, before going to the church, women prepared an incredible dish only from potatoes. They put it in an old oven, similar to bread ovens at that time, left it to cook, and went to the church.
When they came back, the meal was ready, and the whole family was enjoying Gratin Dauphinois.
Even though it is more like a garnish, the smell, creaminess, and mouth-watering taste will make you want to eat it alone, just like that.
Each ingredient has its own aim.
Of course, potatoes are the stars, but no one has ever reached their success alone. And even though this dish doesn’t have many ingredients, it’s enough to create an extremely rich and creamy flavor. So, lets’ see what superpower each component has.
- Milk, double cream, and butter. The fat helps us to create a rich texture, taste, and aroma. It also reacts with the starch from the potatoes and, after cooling down, makes a creamy sauce between each layer.
- Salt. Nowadays, people are trying to reduce their salt intake as much as possible. However, it’s important to remember that salt enhances flavor, and without salt, food would be bland. Once, an amazing chef said, ‘no salt is bad for you, and too much salt is bad for you.’ Therefore, use it, but every time try to find that perfect balance.
- Garlic. Did you know that taste is not the same as flavor? The flavor is a combination of taste and aroma. So to make this dish the most delightful and pleasing, we use garlic to create specifically a scent. The authentic Gratin Dauphinois recipe uses garlic to spread the aroma without having an actual taste; that’s why we ONLY rub the dish. Get more information about flavors here.
- Pepper and nutmeg. To create so needed sharpness.
How do other people make it? Does it work?
I’ve found three different ways of how people make this dish. I’ve tried them all and would like to share my experience. Let’s start with the worst.
- 200°C for 1h. The idea was to make the AUTHENTIC Gratin Dauphinois faster. But instead of a delicious meal, you will get a burned top, uncooked potatoes, and no creamy texture. It was a total fail.
- 100°C for 4h. The potatoes couldn’t hold themselves anymore. They were overcooked, and the top was so far away from golden brown, which means that we lost lots of flavor compounds.
- Season the milk first. That was actually the best idea, and I highly recommend using that. Simmer the milk for about 15 minutes with some added herbs and spices. That will bring more flavor and even more freshness & earthiness to the dish. But. Before pouring it on potatoes, you have to cool this mix down completely. The too high temperature of the liquid will cause uneven cooking of the vegetables; you will see many destroyed potatoes and only a few nicely cooked ones. I always season the milk when making Bechamel; get the recipe here.
Why do you need to cool authentic Gratin Dauphinois down?
Each recipe has a secret of making it absolutely stunning, and small details always matter the most. So, this recipe’s secret is cooling it down completely.
You might think it’s a waste of time, but listen.
When everything is straight out of the oven and super hot, you’ll notice that sauce is very runny, it’s hard to cut Gratin because layers are not stuck together, and, most importantly, the flavor is not as rich as it could be.
But if you wait for one more hour and let the magic happen, the sauce will thicken, keep the layers together, and the flavor’s gonna be incredible. So if you ever wonder how restaurants achieve those delicious and fancy-looking Gratin Dauphinois, that’s the secret: they cook it, cool it down, portion, and reheat the portions (or not).
How the final Gratin Dauphinois result should look and taste?
The outside. As you can see in the photo, golden brown color is what you’re looking for.
The inside. The sauce has to be thickened, keeping the layers together, and coating potatoes with a stunning flavor. When cutting Gratin, you should see those beautiful layers stuck together.
The smell. Rich, buttery, with garlic notes.
The taste. Simply incredible.
Authentic Gratin Dauphinois recipe | The classic potatoes
- 1kg potatoes
- 450ml double cream
- 100ml milk
- 25g butter
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- Rub the dish with garlic and butter.
- Peel the potatoes and slice 2mm thin with a mandolin, knife, or other equipment. Just be careful & DO NOT WASH THE SLICES!
- Mix double cream with milk.
- Take the garlic and butter rubbed dish and pour a little of the mix on the bottom. Lay down one layer of potatoes, lightly season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and repeat until you’re done.
- Place the dish in the oven and cook for 90-120 minutes. Until it looks beautifully golden brown.
- Let it rest for about 40 minutes or until it’s entirely cold.