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nosh friday: gratin dauphinois

November 26, 2010

After seeing (and adoring) Julie and Julia like every other red-blooded American woman, I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking and promptly allowed it to start collecting dust. I had paged through it when it first arrived from Amazon and was definitely more than a little wide-eyed and nervous by its contents. What Julia Child made sound so user-friendly is, in fact, giant and more than a little intimidating.

However, not too long ago, I decided to get past my fears and just tackle a few recipes. I had a friend coming over for dinner, so I decided to make almost the entire meal out of Mrs. Child’s enormous masterpiece. I made roast chicken, buttered green beans and gratin dauphinois, also known as scalloped potatoes to the rest of us. My childhood memories of scalloped potatoes included a thick orange cheese sauce and rubbery potatoes (sorry, Mom!) and I was hesitant. In the end, I decided to trust Julia and just do it. (Plus, how could something with Gruyere be that bad?)

I am a 100% convert.

These potatoes were so good that even after stuffing ourselves to the breaking point at dinner, I came out in the kitchen less than a hour later to find my friend who had “gone to the bathroom” eating the leftover cold potatoes out of the dish with his fingers. Like a proper lady should, I did my duty — I batted his hand out of the way and stuck my own fingers in there, grabbing a chunk of potatoes and stuffing them unceremoniously in my mouth. Mmmmmmm.

These are seriously sexy potatoes, my friends.
As Julia would say, “Bon appetit!”

Gratin Dauphinois
From Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”

2 pounds russet potatoes
4 T. butter
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 c. whole milk
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes thinly. Let the potatoes soak in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the rest of the dish. Cut the clove of garlic in half and rub the dish well. After that, smear about one tablespoon of the butter in the dish, coating the bottom and sides.

Take the potatoes out of the water, drying them thoroughly and arranging them in a shingled pattern, similar to how you’d do an apple tart. Once you’ve made the first layer, sprinkle it with half the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Dot it with half of the remaining butter. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Using a small saucepan, heat up the milk over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Pour it immediately over the potatoes.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are tender and have absorbed all of the milk. (Just a note, the milk sometimes bubbles over the edges a bit, depending on the depth of your baking dish, so a piece of foil or a cookie sheet under the dish wouldn’t be remiss.)

These are a delicious addition to any meal and as you can see, at my family’s Thanksgiving feast, they got the Little Monkey Seal of Approval.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2010 11:40 am

    I am definitely going to try this soon! I had a similar childhood scalloped potato experience but I knew Julia wouldn’t let us down. I’m impressed you cooked a whole JC meal. I can be an adventurous cook but she is still too intimidating for me.

  2. Caroline permalink*
    November 29, 2010 11:50 pm

    @ Leigh!

    I find that trying her out in small, tentative steps helps. 🙂 Once you get started and get past the size of the book, it becomes a little more user-friendly. I wish you luck! These potatoes are a great place to start — very easy.

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