Monday, May 17, 2010

Gratin Dauphinois

So today I had planned to share a recipe with you that features my favorite ingredient of the moment: yep, you guessed it, Berries.  Ripe, fresh, jewel-toned, bursting with flavor berries.  I have two things that I am just dying to share with you... But I'm not really feeling it today.  You know how that goes?  (Just be patient, give me few more days; the sun will come out and we can all be in berry heaven.  I promise.)  Today, I am taking issue with this crappy weather we have been having.   

(Disclaimer: if you are from the Northwest, Midwest, or East Coast, and will be offended by a So Cal girl's petty complaints skip to the end and just make the gratin.)

All day today, all day Saturday, and all Sunday, the sun did not come out.  A dreary cover of clouds blocked any beautiful rays of sun from peeking through the haze.  I know, I know... this might be a description of daily life in other cities, but it is a rare occurrence here in sunny San Diego.  Sure, those of us from Southern California know that "June gloom" is right around the corner, but do the gray skies we experience while the rest of the country heads into summer have to come so soon?  I mean really Mother Nature, get your act together, it is only May!  I know you are probably shaking your head right now, or rolling your eyes (or likely doing both).  Trust me, I am well aware that I am utterly and completely spoiled by the climate here.  I grew up in Northern Ohio, so I am no stranger to bad weather, but that is why I moved to San Diego.  Having lived here for almost five years now, my blood has thinned, and I have apparently become a pansy when it comes to tolerating cold temperatures.  It happens.  So can I order up a little sun here?

So back to the food issue, this gloomy day put me in no mood for sharing bright, summery berries as I had planned.  Rather, I am craving something warm, creamy, and comforting.  I want a dish that will make me feel like it is wrapping a warm blanket around me when I eat it.  And this gratin is it.  This recipe for Gratin Dauphinois is from My French Kitchen, by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde, and it is packed with cream and butter and loads of cheese.  I also added some minced thyme and garlic for a little flavor undertone.  Mmmm... all these things make food taste wonderful.  When you pull this out of the oven, the golden gruyere crust and the bubbling filling underneath is so satisfying.  A bite of this is rich and filling, and just the cure for gray skies and cool days.

So to keep it short and sweet, when you need a little pick-me-up on a sunless day or just want food that feels like home, make this gratin.      


Gratin Dauphinois 
Adapted from My French Kitchen, by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde, pg. 160

My French Kitchen: A Book of 120 Treasured Recipes

2 large white potatoes 
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a medium casserole dish with a small pat of butter.  Set aside.

Peel potatoes and slice very thinly, using a mandoline, food processor, or box grater.  Wash potatoes in several batches of cool water to remove most of the excess starch.  Drain potatoes and dry them throughly by pressing them with an absorbent kitchen towel.  

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine half-and-half and butter and bring to a boil.  Add dry potatoes, salt, garlic, and thyme.  Reduce heat and gently simmer for about 8 minutes.  

Transfer potato cream mixture to the buttered casserole dish, spreading evenly, then evenly sprinkle gruyere cheese over the top.  Use all of it, and add extra if your casserole dish is wide-you want a nice layer of cheese that will get crispy as it bakes.  

Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until top is bubbly and golden brown.  Serve immediately.        


  1. A beautiful dish, and one of my favourites from culinary school!

  2. Totally know what you mean. I live in LA and when I walked out this morning I saw that it had rained last night! I want sunny blue skies!

  3. Gratins are so good that they are welcome in my house all year round! Now being French and of course, being a pain in the butt, I need to share a secret...the real gratin Dauphinois made in the Dauphiné region has technically no cheese...but I like it with cheese too, and this one seems like a gratin from heaven! Gorgeous photo, you captured beautifully that golden crust!

  4. Any weather is perfect for a gratin! Yours looks so heavenly and that gorgeous crust...!

    Let's hope this darn gloom covering california lifts... I had to unearth my jacket from the deep dark depths of the closet today. :(

  5. Btw, I really like the red polka dotted dish... so cute!

  6. You are so right. Even here in Switzerland the weather is supposed to be happy and springlike and instead it is rainy and gloomy. I had an interesting variation of this dish recently which is worth sharing. Basically, anchovies were spread over the top of the gratin under the cheese. A very nice touch they were too!

  7. The crust looks amazing!! YUM! I also like the polka dot baking dish :)

  8. This looks wonderful. I am also a So Cal girl, and here on Tuesday it is gloomy and rainy:(

  9. It's raining in Seattle at the moment, don't feel too bad :) I lived in San Diego for 3 months and when I first moved to Seattle I was so depressed!

    Your gratin looks wonderful and that golden brown color..yum!

  10. The gratin has a perfect color, I could eat it every day!

  11. Hahahahaha!!! I know exactly what you are talking about, I just moved few months ago from NY to LA, and believe me this weather now is summer for New Yorkers but somehow I became such a sissy with cold. And I'm not amused at all with it. I'm hiding at home, making pea soup.LOL
    Your gratin looks delicious, it would make perfect pair with my pea soup tonight. :-D

  12. I would die for that side dish.

  13. Simple and delicious! Love it!!!

  14. I'm from Northern Cal so I know what you mean. The weather has been horrible up here too. Your gratin recipe is so easy to make! Looks yummy too!

  15. I made this for mother's day, and it is heavenly. You're pictures are making me drool :)

  16. With all of the rain we are having in the SF Bay Area this is a perfect dish for dinner. Yummy!

  17. I totally hear you on the weather thing- I'm in Denver and while temperatures are not particularly reliable here one thing is- the sun. I was sold on the 300 days of sun every year and I don't accept any less.

    Love your recipe. I make something similar with summer squash. I love replacing potatoes with summer squash or zucchini in gratins or pancakes and a variety of other dishes once the temperature is over 60 degrees.

    Hope the sun comes out soon! :-)

  18. Sounds like you need a trip to the desert :)

    I notice its gloriously sunny now even here near torrey pines but whats the betting its may grey by the weekend!!

  19. Ok, silly I know, but when you talked about wanting to feature your favorite ingredient, for some reason I just assumed it would be cilantro. Something about that cilantro sticking out of your pants. Ha.

    Anyway, I'm sorry your weather was stinky. Hopefully it will clear up soon for you. Those gratin potatoes look delicious!

  20. Alright friends, I am happy to report that today was a BEAUTIFUL southern california day, and I even snuck out of work for a little while to enjoy it. For the rest of you in other locations all over the world, I hope the sun comes out for you soon too! :)

    Although, Jenny, I agree that it will probably be gray by the time the weekend rolls around... :P

    Julie-LOL, not really silly for you to think that, I am The Cilantropist after all. ;) I think cilantro might be one of my all-time fav ingredients, but right now I feel like I am constantly lusting after berries... Hopefully my main mistress cilantro won't get too jealous!

  21. This looks so rich and delicious, and I bet the thyme adds a hint of extra flavor. I love the idea of adding thyme to a potato dish - why haven't I thought of that?!

  22. Just dropping by to investigate. LOVE your name. Very clever (your header too). And since I love cilantro myself, I was wondering about it. I'll be back.

  23. Wish I had some gruyere cheese in the fridge right now - I'd be making this for dinner tonight! What a beautiful dish...the cheese is all textured and deliciously carmelized.

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