Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)

Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)Joyeaux Noel

This Christmas my sister and her family are off gallivanting around Europe. They packed their bags, and left the rest of us back here to enjoy our usual holiday routine without them. (No. I’m not the least bit jealous!) For fun this year, since she will be in Paris for Christmas Eve, those of us left behind will enjoy a traditional Parisian Christmas Eve dinner.

There’s just one problem…

There are many fantastic cuisines around the world with their specific techniques and ingredients, and for centuries French cuisine has been considered the best of the best. If you can master classic French technique and flavor you can cook anything. (Thank you, Julia). So, imagine my surprise as I started looking through my French cookbooks and searching online, I came to realize—that for all their gastronomic sophistication, The French, when it comes to Christmas, are kinda boring.

Sure there is the Bûche de Noël and the rather ambitious Croquembouche but beyond that there really isn’t much that says “This is what we eat for a Joyeaux Noël”. To be fair, in Provence they do have the Gros Souper, which is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve but frankly I am not a fan of salt cod—and though Ratatouille is super good it just doesn’t seem festive enough.

After much deliberation, I decided to go traditional Bistro for dinner on Thursday. The menu is as follows: fresh made Country Pâté with assorted French cheese for appetizers, Arugula Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola and Bacon, Roast Filet de Bœuf, Sautéed Haricots Verts (green beans), Pommes Dauphinoise and, of course, French wine…

I did break with the traditional French in that we will be having the cheese and salad first instead of after the main meal. Honestly, it’s just easier that way, and I have enough stress to deal with ’cause Christmas dinner is Paella…Olé!

No matter how you choose to celebrate (eat your way through) your holiday, I wish you all good health and happiness this holiday season and a very Happy New Year!

Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups milk
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups grated Gruyere
Salt and pepper
Parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the milk in a small, heavy saucepan. Peel and smash one of the garlic cloves. Add it to the pot and heat the milk gently until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove the milk from the heat, and allow the garlic to steep while you continue.

Peel the second garlic clove, cut it in half and rub the cut side around the inside of an oval gratin dish about 9 inches long x 2 inches deep. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter around the inside of the baking dish.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/8-inch-thick slices. (You can use a mandoline to get them nice and even.) Lay the slices on a kitchen towel to drain.

Layer about a third of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, fanning them into concentric, overlapping circles. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and sprinkle a third of the cheese over them. Repeat with two more layers of potatoes, salt and pepper and cheese, making the top layer as neat and tidy as you can.

Remove the garlic clove from the hot milk and pour the milk evenly over the potatoes. Dot the top of the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of butter and bake the gratin for about 30 minutes, until it’s browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven. Garnish with parsley, and allow the potatoes cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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