The Traditional French Gratin Dauphinois

If you are looking for a dish to impress your guests, or something fancy for your next date, you should definitely try this recipe.

The gratin dauphinois originally comes from one of the French Alps regions, called Dauphiné. It was first served at a dinner hosted by a French duke in the 18th century. He became very fond of this dish and asked for it regularly. The gratin then became popular everywhere in France.

Since then, it has been one of the most famous French dishes and you can enjoy this dish in most of the fancy Parisian restaurants. Even the oldest restaurant of Paris, Le Café Procope, which opened its doors in 1623, offers one of the finest gratin dauphinois that you can savor while admiring Voltaire’s letters and Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat. You should definitely try their gratin it next time you go to Paris on holiday!

The gratin usually goes really well with a glass of red Beaujolais, a magret de canard (duck breast fillet) and green beans. If you can’t find duck to serve with your meal, don’t worry, any other red meat will go well with it. A sirloin, rib eye or a tournedos will be delicious with your gratin dauphinois.

If you are not a big fan of red meat, salmon can also be a good option to go with your meal.

Moreover, if it is hard for you to find a red Beaujolais, any Pinot noir will be great.

This recipe that I am sharing with you today is my grandmother’s, which she got from her grandmother. During winter, she would make it pretty much every Sunday, just because she knew how much I loved this dish!

It is actually a very simple dish and I guarantee it will always be a success! Last time I made it, I wanted to impress my boyfriend for our two-year anniversary. He loved it!

The trick to make a perfect gratin dauphinois is to select the right kind of potatoes. Choose the starchiest kind you can find, such as Russet or Idaho.

Moreover, the choice of the cheese is very important. You want something quite mild: it is a delicate dish and you do not want to cover the refined flavors with a strong cheese, such as parmesan or extra mature cheddar. The most suitable option would be emmentale: it is quite mild, subtle and above all, French! However, it might not be the easiest cheese to find in your nearest supermarket; you can replace it with mild cheddar.

The gratin is still good the day after. Simply slowly reheat it in the oven. You can enjoy it with a mixed salad.

I hope you will love this recipe as much as the French do!

The Traditional French Gratin Dauphinois


Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg potatoes
  • 1 L milk
  • 25 cl double cream
  • 75 g butter
  • 150 g grated emmental cheese
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp dry thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and butter a dish

  2. Wash, peel and slice the potatoes

  3. Mix the chopped garlic, milk, cream, nutmeg, thyme and bring to boil

  4. Add the potatoes and cook for 12-15 minutes

  5. Drain the potatoes and place in a dish

  6. Scatter the cheese on top

  7. Bake for an hour

STEP ONE – PREHEAT THE OVEN

The first thing to do before starting the recipe is to preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Then, you should butter a gratin dish, which is 30×20 cm/12×8 in. You can now start preparing the meal.

STEP TWO – PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS

You should first wash the potatoes, then peel them and thinly slice them. The thinner you cut them, the faster they cook and the faster your guests can enjoy your delicious meal! You could also use a mandoline slicer. It would save you a lot of time cutting and cooking, but it would also give you really nice and even slices and your gratin would therefore look amazing!

Be really careful to not wash the potatoes after slicing them. You will need the starch to stick the potato slices together and make a nice and firm gratin.

Once you are done with the potatoes, you can then chop the garlic, as fine as possible. You could also use a garlic chopper if you have one.

STEP THREE – COOK THE POTATOES

The next step is pouring the milk and cream into a big saucepan (it needs to be big enough to contain all the potato slices).

Then, add the chopped garlic, the nutmeg, the thyme, salt and pepper.

You have to slowly heat and bring the mixture to boil, while constantly stirring just so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once the mixture is boiling, add the potato slices to the saucepan. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes at low temperature. Depending on the thickness of your potato slices, they will cook differently.

Keep in mind that the potatoes have to stay firm, so make sure you check their texture while they are cooking. You can use a fork or a pointy knife during the cooking process and remove the saucepan from the hob when they are cooked, but still firm.

STEP FOUR – BAKE AND SERVE

Once the potatoes are cooked, you should drain the potatoes using a colander and place them in the baking dish that you previously greased.

The next step is scattering the cheese over the potato slices and then placing small pieces of butter on top. Make sure that the grated cheese is sprinkled evenly and completely covers the potatoes.

Finally, bake for about one hour. It might be less if you chopped the potatoes with the mandoline. You should regularly check the gratin after 45 minutes of baking and remove it from the oven when the crust on top is nice and golden.

You should definitely leave the gratin to stand for 10-15 minutes, as it is going to be really hot when it comes out of the oven. You can then serve your dish with a dash of fresh parsley.

FINAL THOUGHTS

if you feel like having a slightly lighter meal, you can leave the cheese out. It will still be delicious!

You can also add a bit of white wine into the milk and cream mix to enhance the flavor of the dish!

As summers are quite warm in France, French people tend to it the gratin dauphinois during winter, as it is quite filling.

Once your gratin is ready, open your bottle of Beaujolais and voilà!

I am sure your guests will be impressed and find it delicious!

Tell us what they thought in the comments below!

Bon appétit!

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