Okay so what’s the difference between a gratin and potato dauphinoise? Basically nothing, although I’ve always identified dauphinoise as a side dish and gratin as a main but essentially, they’re the same. Layers of finely sliced potato cooked in lashings of double cream and cheese, err yes please. And who do we have to thank for this? The French of course. I wish I was French, I’d love to eat cheese, drink wine and wear black clothes draped over my slender bird like body… Not quite sure where that came from.
Anyway, unfortunately I’m not French so literally can’t bring myself to pour a whole pint of double cream over my dinner so decided to make a slightly healthier version, based on a gratin I ate in Paris back in February.
I was a bit sceptical about going to Paris at first because any pleasant memories I had, had been marred by me picking ham out of every meal on a school trip once. However, it appeared Paris was no longer the veggie-phobic city it once was.
I ordered the only meat-free option available which was a kind of mixed vegetable gratin. I didn’t like the sound of this, a bowl of vegetables covered in cheese, ‘great’ (said in an unenthusiastic tone) but as usual, I was wrong. A handful of diced vegetables formed the base and was topped with gooey, cheesy, buttery potatoes, yum! We scooped, scoffed and quaffed the night away before waddling back to our hotel feeling like we were going to die (in a good way). Bon appetite!
Serves 2 / Hands on time 40 mins / Total time 1 hr 10 mins / V* Gf
You’ll need: Casserole oven-proof dish approx 25cm x 20cm
1 tsp of olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
½ courgette, finely diced
1 tomato, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
Pinch of ground nutmeg
300ml semi-skimmed milk
200g Crème fraîche
750g potatoes thinly sliced
80g Gruyere*, vegetarian Emmental or vegetarian cheddar, finely grated
French bread and salad leaves to serve
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6. Finely slice the potatoes as thin as you can and put to one side. I tend to leave the skins on but you can peel them if you prefer.
2. In a large pot with a lid, add the oil and place over a medium heat. Once warm, add the crushed garlic, courgette and tomato for a few minutes in the oil before taking off the heat. Cool for 5 mins. Add the 300ml of milk, 1 tsp of herbs de Provence and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir and bring to the boil before turning the heat right down. Carefully submerge the potatoes in the milk (don’t worry if you can’t submerge all of them). Cover with a lid and simmer for 5 mins. Uncover, and roughly turn the potatoes over with a spoon, being careful not to break them up too much. Cover again and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
3. Give the potatoes another turn and take off the heat. Using a large slotted spoon, lift roughly half the potatoes out of the sauce and spread evenly in the the casserole dish (leave as much of the sauce in the pot as possible as you will need to mix the crème fraîche into it). Season well with salt and pepper and cover with half the grated cheese.
4. Lift the rest of the potatoes out and spread evenly on top of the cheese. Put to one side. Add the crème fraîche to the pot of remaining sauce and vigorously beat with a whisk (this prevents the sauce from splitting). Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and season well with salt and pepper.
5. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 mins. Carefully remove the foil and cook for a further 10 mins before finishing under a hot grill until golden brown. Serve with sliced French bread, lightly dressed leaves and good bottle of red wine. Well it’s not Parisian without wine!
If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.
V– Vegetarian Gf– Gluten free
*Gruyere cheese is not vegetarian.