Thyme-infused potato dauphinoise

November 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

Although the English word potato comes from Spanish patata, this dish is thoroughly French. Potato dauphinoise was created in the Dauphiné region of France and consists of thinly-sliced potatoes, mixed with milk, cream or creme fraiche, and cheese, garlic and seasoning.

There are numerous tastes that combine beautifully with potatoes, but the best combination I’ve come across is fresh thyme and garlic. This particular dish infuses the dauphinoise cream with fresh thyme which makes it fragrant and flavoursome, especially when simmered with whole garlic cloves.

Potato dauphinoise is a perfect accompaniment for meat, fish or even vegetarian mains, and it certainly gives your meal a touch of elegance that mashed, roasted or plain boiled potatoes just won’t provide.

To make this delightful side dish, you will need:

  • 3 medium-sized jacket potatoes, scrubbed
  • 170 ml double cream
  • 140 ml single cream
  • 275 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 30g finely grated Gruyère cheese

You’ll need to start off by pre-heating your oven to 180ºC. Once the potatoes have been washed and scrubbed, remove any growths or gnarly bits and then slice thinly using a mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, a sharp knife will do just fine but make sure that the slices are fairly even in thickness.

Peel your garlic cloves, and then if you’re like me and prefer to top and tail your cloves, go ahead. It doesn’t make much difference now as you’ll need to trim them later. Set these aside while you prepare the cream infusion. In a large heavy-based pan on a medium heat, melt a knob of butter and then add the cream, milk and garlic cloves. Throw in the sprigs of thyme, bay leaves and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir well then bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a low to medium heat. Add in the pinch of ground nutmeg, stir and then add in the sliced potato. Coat the potatoes evenly, then let the mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes.

At this point, you can take the potatoes off the heat and start to take them out of the cream mixture using a slotted spoon, into a buttered baking dish. Don’t worry too much about this being neat, you just want to dump it all in – if you really want to impress, you can try to layer the potatoes equally but this method is definitely quicker!

Once all the slices are in, you should have the garlic cloves, bay leaves and thyme sprigs left behind in the cream infusion. If you want the thyme taste to be more prominent, strip the leaves from the sprigs by just pinching the twig and pulling down the stem opposite to the direction of the leaf growth. These should have softened enough in the cream to come off easily. Remove and discard the stems and bay leaves, then lift out the garlic cloves and slice fairly thickly. Scatter the soft garlic slices over the potato and mix carefully in the dish.

At this point you can sprinkle over your grated Gruyère cheese evenly, then season the top with freshly ground black pepper.

Stick this in the oven on the lower shelf for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until thoroughly golden on top.

I served this with a delicious mint and balsamic vinegar-encrusted rack of lamb, and a baby greens salad with cherry tomatoes and a fresh honey and mustard dressing. You can serve with whatever you like!


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