We haven’t really sat down to eat a big meal since Christmas Day, so I felt it was only fitting that at the start of the year I should make an effort but keep it in the comfort zone, as our winter hibernation is truly setting in.
Also, I am loathed to pop out and buy food when there is still a plethora of things still sitting in our fridge that need using up. Albeit most of them are pickled affairs.
Anyway, all of this led me to plump for something I love, but rarely do, as we don’t often have cream in the fridge.
I have occasionally tried to keep cream in the fridge as almost all the cookery programmes i have ever watched, always seem to refer to it as an essential. However, I found that as we don’t use cream on a daily basis, once the correct amount has been apportioned to whichever recipe required it, any left over cream just lingers forlornly, slowly frosting away with no particular place to go.
I am trying to rectify this situation, hence potatoes Dauphinoise.
Officially, this is a gratin recipe as the potatoes, although sliced, are completely cooked in the oven. But I don’t think anyone’s too concerned about semantics in this particular instance.
Anyway, put your cream in a pan and add a clove of garlic per 100ml of liquid. Grind in some salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer, and add the potatoes which have been thinly sliced, simmering for approximately 3 minutes.
The basic rule of thumb here is that you need double the amount of potatoes to cream. And just to let you know, it doesn’t need to be all cream. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use up all the cream you have and just top up with milk. Or, if you prefer, go half and half. It’s totally up to you.
Then, strain the potato slices into an oven proof dish, fish out the garlic cloves from the warmed cream before pouring over the top.
Cook in the middle of the oven, gas mark 5, for about an hour. Longer if you prefer your spuds with a little more of a mush.
And it is at this juncture that I feel the need to point out the beauty of potatoes Dauphinoise. It is a wonderfully diverse dish that you can tweak to your heart’s content. You can add rosemary, thyme, or any other herb you love, to the cream mixture. You can grate cheese on the top (Gruyere is the cheese most oft mentioned but anything light and nutty will taste great), you can even, if you’re really thinking of living on the edge, add eggs to the creamy affair.
I will just add a word of garlic caution here. I find infusing the cream with garlic is enough to compliment the other flavours in the dish. Those of you who cannot get enough of the garlic flavour, may wish to grate, crush or chop your garlic into the cream and leave it there. If so, I suggest one clove per 250ml of liquid will suffice.
Whichever way you decide to cook your potatoes, they always taste divine, and although traditionally they were cooked to compliment fish, I like to throw caution to the wind and cook them to compliment whatever I fancy, or even, sometimes, just eat them on their own.
One of the most delicious classic comfort foods around. Enjoy.