The ultimate cheesy potato bake! This is Julia Child’s Potato Dauphinoise aka Potato Gratin. Layers of sliced potato with cream and cheese, and the most subtle hint of garlic. It’s creamy inside with a golden cheesy crust. The ultimate comfort food – done right, the proper French way!
I love to make this when I’m cooking for a crowd because it reheats so incredibly well. Pop it into the microwave to get it started, then finish it off in the oven to make the top lovely and golden again.
*** This recipe is part of a Christmas Special where I show you how to make 3 mains and 4 side dishes that take 1.5 hrs to prepare and can be largely made ahead. So this Christmas, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family! 🙂 ***
I am yet to meet a form of potato I don’t like. And of all the ways to cook potato, this is my favourite. Potato, cream and cheese – how can you go wrong? Potato Dauphinoise is also known as potato au gratin or potato bake. I tried a lot of potato dauphinoise recipes in my lifetime. Then I discovered Julia Child’s version, and I’ve never used another recipe since. This recipe only takes 15 minutes to put together – and even faster if you have a slicer. It is great to make ahead then just reheat when you need it, it keeps well for around 3 days.
I know that crispy roast potatoes are more traditional to have at festive occasions. But from a practical perspective, sometimes it isn’t possible due to restricted oven space and timing (potatoes take at least 40 minutes to roast to crispy perfection!). In my case, I was making 7 dishes for a Christmas lunch at a friends’ house so I needed things that I could make ahead and reheat perfectly. I think roast potatoes are just one of those things I think should be served piping hot, straight out of the oven!
In anycase, this Potato Dauphinoise is hardly a compromise. It is crazy delicious and the best part is that it reheats perfectly. I’d dare to even say that it’s even better the next day because the flavours have had a chance to meld and the potatoes sort of suck up the cream, making it even creamier.
Besides, it’s a Julia Child recipe. You simply can’t go wrong!
Potato, potato, potato…how I love thee!! – Nagi x
See below the recipe for the full Christmas Menu!
- 2 lb / 1 kg starchy potatoes (Note 1)
- 1/2 clove unpeeled garlic
- 4 tbsp butter , chopped into small cubes (Note 3)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese (or tasty or cheddar)
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 2 tsp thyme leaves (optional - but highly recommended)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Rub a baking dish or round skillet (square 21 x 21 cm / 8 x 8" or round 23 cm / 9" diameter) with the cut garlic, then smear with 1 tbsp of butter.
Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8"/3 mm thick. Or use a slicer - makes the job much faster!
Spread 1/3 of the potatoes in the dish, then scatter over 1/3 of the cream, salt, pepper, cheese, thyme and butter (Note 3).
Repeat for the 2nd and third layer, finishing with the cheese.
Cover with lid or foil, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hr 15 min or until the potatoes is soft (use a knife to test), then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 until the top is bubbly and golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
1. You need to use starchy potatoes as they breakdown when cooked, becoming nice and fluffy on the inside and golden and crunchy on the top. The best to use are Russet (common in the US), Dutch creams, King Edwards or red delight. However, great all rounders like golden delight, coliban, red rascal and Sebago (popular in Australia) still works great.
I use Sebago which are the brushed potatoes you can get from any supermarket in Australia (ie. the ones with dirt on them). If you are based in the US, a great all rounder to use is Russet which I understand is one of the most widely used potatoes in the US.
2. To make ahead: After trying various ways during the course of 2016, I have found that the best way to make ahead is to assemble it all EXCEPT for the final layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake until potato is soft. Let cool then drizzle with a bit of extra cream, top with cheese, refrigerate until required. Reheat covered in foil in a 180C/350F oven for 20 - 35 min or until hot, then remove foil and bake until cheese is golden. To speed things up you can microwave it then pop it in the oven (this is dense so takes quite a while to reheat in the oven, depends on depth of baking dish you use).
3. You could just melt the butter and drizzle. I've written the recipe the way it is traditionally made.
4. Potato Dauphinoise nutrition analysis assumes 12 servings.
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Easy, Stress Free Seven Course Christmas Menu (1.5 hr prep)
You can read about this menu here, including a step by step of the order in which I prepared, baked, reheated and plated up each dish. I made all these dishes (with the exception of the cabbage salad) for a Christmas Party with my friends and these are photos of the actual dishes that I took to the party. I’m sharing this in the hope that it might inspire your Christmas menu!
- Easy Maple Sticky Glazed Ham (15 min prep, 1 – 1 1/2 hrs inactive baking, can be made ahead)
- Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast (5 min prep, then set and forget, reheats well but best slow cooked overnight on the night before serving)
- Festive Duck with Apple Cider Drizzle (5 min prep, 1 1/2 hr inactive baking, reheats very well)
- Pork Apple Stuffing in Pancetta Cups (20 min prep and worth every second. Reheats extremely well)
- Julia Child’s Potato Dauphinoise Gratin (15 min prep, 45 min baking, reheats very well)
- Red, Green and White Christmas Salad (10 minutes prep)
- Warm Red Cabbage and Spinach with Garlic Herb Butter (10 minutes prep)