Gratin dauphinoiseis a simple dish of sliced potatoes. It is creamy, cheesy, with just a hint of garlic and herbs. Slow baked, to give a golden and crunchy crust hiding a succulent, oozing, loveliness underneath. This goes superbly with a roasted leg of young spring lamb and some steamed green beans. Serves 4-6.
- knob of butter
- 1kg Desiree potatoes
- 300ml full-fat milk
- 300ml double cream
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
- 30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Rub the butter all over the surface of a gratin dish, about 20x20cm.
- Peel and slice the potatoes to a width of 3mm/one eighth in. Lay the slices on a clean tea towel and pat dry. Keep them covered with the tea towel while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan. Add the garlic, thyme and shallot. Slowly heat the milk and, just as it is about to reach boiling point and you see bubbles appearing around the edges of the pan, remove it from the heat.
- Strain the liquid into a large jug, sprinkle in the nutmeg and keep warm.
- Layer half the potato slices in the dish, slightly overlapping the slices and sprinkling with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper between each layer. You don't have to be too neat with the lower layers, but keep some of your best slices for later, so the top looks good.
- Pour half the hot milk and cream over the potatoes, then finish off layering the rest of the potatoes (arranging them a bit more carefully this time). Pour over the rest of the hot milk and cream. Scatter the cheese over the top and bake for about 1½ hour, until golden and tender.
- Leave the dish to stand for about 5 minutes, then serve sprinkled with a few fresh thyme leaves.