Gratin Dauphinois

28 Dec

Gratin Dauphinois or Scalloped Potatoes

Gratin Dauphinois is a French dish my mother called Scalloped Potatoes.  The “gratin,” comes from the French meaning “to scrape” or the “scrapings” of bread or cheese that is often found in casserole dishes with a crusty top.  The Dauphine, a region, is part of southeastern France that since the time of the French Revolution has has been divided into three departments, IsèreDrôme and Hautes-Alpes and is the site of the Dauphine Libere, a yearly tune up for those who will ride in Le Tour de France cycling race.  In addition to being the culinary epicenter for Scalloped Potatoes or Potatoes Au Gratin, this region of France is also famous for a green liquor made by Carthusian monks called Chartreuse, but that is another post.

Julia Child, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking said, “There are as many “authentic” (sic) versions of gratin dauphinois as there are of bouillabaise,” and I’d tend to agree with her.   In this version, as if often the case with what I cook, I took a look at what we had in the fridge and freezer and came up with this version of my own.

My Mandoline after being washed

I used a mandoline, something no kitchen should be without, to slice up some potatoes we had lying around and grabbed some left over spiral ham we had in the freezer from Thanksgiving.   My Mother’s version of scalloped potatoes always had onions in them, but we didn’t have any here in the house and I wasn’t going out in the cold to track some down.

Uniform width really helps with cooking time

I cut most of the larger slices in half

Using a mandoline is great for getting all of your slices exactly the same width, which helps with presentation but more importantly with cooking time.

Next I diced up some of the leftover ham, and Utah and Normand were good about helping with those unused scraps, and then chopped some fresh sage that we had to add some more flavor.

Leftover ham chopped up and added to the mix

I grated some Gruyere, a cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that is a bit salty and nutty and is great for things like quiche and yes, Gratin, and added that to the pile of things I was collecting.

Nutmeg, sage and cheese

Once all the ingredients were prepped, I put some butter to melt in a pan, and added some flour to create a bit of a roux and added milk to the mix.   I also added a couple of table spoons of sour cream and the Gruyere and grated in nutmeg.  Salt and pepper to taste and that was done.

Yummy goodness

After using a wisk to bring this all together over a medium heat, I layered the the potatoes and ham in my stoneware pan, and poured the creamy mixture over it, and did the same a number of times.   I finished with a bit of grated sharp cheddar on top and put the mix into the oven covered for about an hour.

Layer upon layer

Grated cheddar on top

The results were wonderful, and after letting it cool for a bit.  A perfect hot, homey meal for a cold winter’s night.

Gratin Dauphinois avec Jambon

I would love to know what you think about the blog, meal or drink ideas, cooking, my photography, restaurant recommendations, or anything else you’d like to share.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers – JI

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3 Responses to “Gratin Dauphinois”

  1. Jean-François Charles December 29, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Great to read you, Justin! Beautiful pictures. You’re right, there are as many recipes of Gratin dauphinois as there are valleys in the Alps. I have always been told there is absolutely no cheese in the “real” gratin dauphinois. But we always use some, as well as nutmeg, same as on your pictures.
    All best to the family!

  2. Emily @ A Cambridge Story January 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    This dish is absolutely drool-worthy! I love the use of nutmeg in these cheesey, wintry meals. Glad to know about your blog – and thank you for including A Cambridge Story in “The Pass” list! Much appreciated!

    • Justin Ide January 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you Emily …

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