For me, Thanksgiving is all about the sides. I think that a lot of you share the same sentiment. The turkey, as delicious and necessary as it is to a proper Thanksgiving spread, can be brined, seasoned, and even fried to your satisfaction, but that’s not what makes most of us excited for our day of feasting. It’s sides like this gratin dauphinois that excite most of us.
To be honest, doesn’t Turkey just taste a bit like chicken? I mean, really, it’s not all that different. I think a lot of us eat our fair share of chicken in our everyday lives, so what’s there to be excited about?
You see, my friend, what tickles our tummies and puts us in food-induced comas is not the turkey, but rather those tantalizing sides that we just can’t seem to get enough of. Scrumptious apple-sausage stuffing, slow-cooked maple bacon beans, sweet cornbread with slightly crisp edges, and creamy mashed potatoes.
Or, maybe a gratin dauphinois instead?
Gratin dauphinois was like a revelation for me. Growing up, potatoes were best if they were fried and served with my burger or chicken tenders, or mashed into creamy oblivion with butter and cream.
I tolerated breakfast potatoes or baked potatoes, but I had it pretty clear in my mind that french fries and mashed potatoes trumped all (please don’t serve me yams because then we won’t be able to be friends).
Then I traveled to Paris and sat my derrière down at a quaint cafe, and saw most of the plat principal (main course) choices came with a side of gratin dauphinois.
Hmm, qu’est-ce que c’est? Well, I’ll tell you exactly what gratin dauphinois is. It’s the best thing since crusty French bread (I was about to say sliced bread but this is a French food blog).
Ah, yes, tender sliced potatoes layered with butter, cream, and melted gruyere. I get excited just thinking about it!
Is this dish health-conscious? No, most definitely not. But then again, which French dish is? These potatoes are all about moderation, even if you desperately want to lick the dish clean.
My favorite part about gratin dauphinois is the crisp layer on top. I get the same sense of thrill that I do when I break my spoon into the burnt sugar topping of crème brûlée. It’s the combination of the crispy texture and incredibly cheesy flavor that you get from scooping from that entire layer of gruyere that was placed on top. Then, you’re met with with a more tender, creamy texture that is absolutely divine and no less cheesy than the top.
These potatoes could really be made with any kind of cheese that you like, but I love a salty cheese like gruyere because the potatoes just beg for it, in my opinion. You know who else is begging around here? Moi! Et Tu! Because after this comes out of the oven, everyone will be reduced to their hands and knees begging for a serving of these!
Scalloped potatoes layered with cream and cheese, then baked until tender and crisp on top.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1.25 lb starchy potatoes Idaho or Russet, peeled and sliced thinly 1/8”
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 clove a garlic peeled
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3 oz gruyere cheese shredded
- thyme optional, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
Meanwhile, prepare your potatoes by peeling and slicing them. Place them in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.
Rub the cut side of the garlic clove all over the bottom and sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. Smear a tablespoon of the unsalted butter all over the bottom and sides of the dish.
Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place a layer of potato slices all along the bottom of the dish, beginning from the outside of the dish and working your way inward in a radial pattern. Assemble a second layer of potato slices, making sure they overlap each other rather than directly stacked on top of each other. Make sure to cover any gaps between the potatoes.
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper all over this layer. Distribute half of the shredded cheese evenly over all the potatoes.
Arrange the remaining half of potato slices just like you did the first half. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into cubes and distribute the butter cubes among the surface. Pour the hot cream all over the potatoes. Finish by topping the entire dish with the remaining cheese.
Bake the potatoes for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the top has obtained a nice golden brown, crispy surface. Before serving, garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.