Sunday, February 22, 2009

You say potato...

...I say Gratin Dauphinois.

After living in France for 16 years, I have finally, just about, almost, reached potato nirvana. It took a chance conversation on Facebook and an experiment with refrigerator ingredients to come to this point. Everything I thought I was doing right was wrong, wrong, wrong! Cheese? Quel horreur! Milk? Alors! Mind you, I have been corrected and I hope to mend my ways.

A little history... I married a French guy. He had a mother. She hated to cook. (I should have run away then.) I brought my love of cooking and 17 boxes of kitchen paraphernalia with me when I moved here. I had spent the prior year getting to know him... eating in restaurants, going to his friend's homes for dinners... in short, enjoying the cuisine of France. One of my most favorite dishes has always been Gratin Dauphinois. What could be easier than potatoes, milk, and cheese I thought? Pfft. I can do that!

Yeah. Right. Not til now. Now I know I don't have to simmer the spuds in milk, minding the heat so they don't get scalded... no wondering which cheese is the right cheese... there is NO cheese! This is a simple dish prepared simply and with love.

Tonight I had three little potatoes that had been leftover from last week's raclette. I had a dab of butter, a tiny box of creme l├ęger and a clove of garlic. Salt and pepper grinders are always on hand. I was set. I sliced the taters into a large bowl, poured the creme over top, seasoned it, rubbed garlic and butter into a ramekin and poured it all in... Popped it into a low oven and let it go for about 2 hours. And THAT, my friends, is the trick. Long and slow. Who knew? How easy is that? Sheesh. All these culinary years later.....

The end result was... almost perfection. I would use a full cream and not the light version. (Screw the calories for this dish!) Other than that? Nirvana.

In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.
~Julia Child


Arjan Tupan said...

Great tip, thanks! Apparently I was always too impatient, keeping it in the oven for no more than one hour.

Adding cheese, however, and maybe a bit of chopped onions or echalottes, would make it even more to my taste.

As soon as I get my stove, I'll have my go at it.

QBParis said...

Give it one go with pure ingredients... it really makes a difference. I used to add onions and cheese... not any more!

Bon app!

Starman said...

How low is a "low" oven?

QBParis said...

I have a convection oven... I did it at 150C or so for about 2 hours. Seriously, long and slow. :-)

The trick is it's done when it is golden brown. Perfection!

Arjan Tupan said...

Okay, okay. I love pure, so I will try it. First a stove, though, because in the Micro-Ondes it won't work.