When I was younger my mother used to make the best potatoes in the world! She still does of course but the memories from our childhoods make more impact I believe, and I remember my mother teaching me to make potato gratin or gratin dauphinois if you prefer. This is one of those items that works brilliantly for family dinners at home or more impressive dinner parties. It goes so well with everything and can be made in advance which is ideal and my mum used to serve this at her dinner parties which is why I now do so too. There are two types of potato that I find super comforting and I could eat a big bowl of them on their own: creamy mash potato and potato gratin. This time it was no different. I made the gratin and we had it for dinner but the next morning I was found eating it out of the baking dish on the sofa at seven am. I simply couldn’t resist.
A couple of weeks ago, while I made this dish, I had in my head a whole post of things to say and related items. I usually make something and write it down soon after the fact and have such excitement about sharing it. Today however, I now find myself with an empty head. So am simply going to go ahead and just share this…
There are many versions of this dish, some like to make it with stock rather than milk, some like to add more vegetables to it or bacon but I like the simplicity of potato, onion, garlic, milk and cheese. If you don’t want to add the cheese, add a little melted butter on the top to give it a rich golden look, but the cheesy crust on top is what makes this dish for me and I eat the gratin layer by layer from the bottom upwards and save the cheesy top for last.
- 1 kg of potatoes, the waxy kind are best
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp butter, or a big slice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 250 ml milk
- a large handful of grated mature cheddar cheese, or more if you prefer
- salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 190°c (fan oven).
Start by slicing your potatoes into thin discs. I use my food processor for this or you could use a mandolin if you have one and place in a bowl large enough to be able to toss them with the liquid.
In a frying pan or saucepan, saute your onions with the butter for about 10 minutes to soften and till just turning brown. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and seasoning. Add your milk and bring to a near boil and take off the heat. Add the milk mix to the potatoes and toss to coat nicely
Pour into a baking dish and cover with a sprinkling of cheese.
Pop into the oven for 1 hour. If you find the top is cooking too quickly and will possibly burn, cover with foil and uncover 5 minutes before the end of cooking. In my experience it depends on the cheese you top with if it cooks too quickly. I don’t always have the right ingredients so I sometimes add parmesan or other cheese that I happen to have and I need to cover the dish with foil about 15 minutes into the cooking time. We like it cooked till the cheese caramelises at the edges. Yummy crispy cheesy edges!