Traditional recipes

The best gratin dauphinois recipe

The best gratin dauphinois recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Vegetable
  • Root vegetables
  • Potato
  • Potato side dishes
  • Baked potato

Delicious with roast pork or pork chops. My French grandmother always added nutmeg and so do I - this is always a success, even if I say so myself!

22 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 1.5 kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 250ml cream
  • 160g freshly grated gruyère cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • butter for greasing

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:15min ›Ready in:35min

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  2. Pour the milk into a casserole pot. Add the potatoes and 1 tablespoon butter. Season with salt and grated nutmeg. Heat over medium/low heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the potatoes.
  3. Brush the gratin dish with a garlic clove, then butter the dish.
  4. Mix half of the cream and half of the grated gruyère in a bowl.
  5. Transfer half of the drained potatoes into the dish. Season with pepper and pour over cream and grated cheese mixture. Sprinkle over remaining grated cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven on a middle shelf, for about 1 hour, or until golden brown.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(7)

Reviews in English (2)

absolutley gorgeoushave just made this now and i love it.i didnt add the nutmeg as i didnt have any in but it was still family loved it too.will deffo be making thi again and again.thank u for shraring-02 Dec 2012

The recipe instructs you to add half of the potatoes to the dish, pour over half of the cheese-cream mixture, and then sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese...what about the other half of the potatoes? I'm assuming that what was intended was a second layer and top it with the remaining cheese, so that's what I did. The only sub I made was using FF half-and-half instead of cream, otherwise, followed the instructions. Was just a bit on the dry side, so in the future, I would add a little more half-and-half, but we still thoroughly enjoyed this gratin. Also, watch your time, mine was fully cooked and beautifully brown at 45 minutes.-03 Jun 2015

Seriously satisfying &ndash layers of potato cooked in a rich garlic cream with Gruyère cheese. This dish goes best with roast meat, particularly beef. The potato variety is important. I find that Desiree and Belle de Fontenay work best, and both are usually available in supermarkets. The gratin can be cooked an hour or so before the meal and then reheated 20 minutes before serving.

4 medium potatoes (Desiree or Belle de Fontenay), weighing about 450g (1lb) in total
300ml (½ pint) full-fat milk
milk 100ml (3½fl oz) double cream
8 gratings of nutmeg
100g (4oz) Gruyère, grated
1/2 garlic clove


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French comfort food: Mr Christian Dauve’s ultimate Gratin Dauphinois recipe

It was cold and miserable outside…. the Parisian winter is setting in. My friend and I stepped into the l’Auberge Rouge– a non-descript neighbourhood brassiere, to simply take a drink and catch up. I ordered the best red wine on the menu in an attempt to lift my spirits and defrost a little. The wine was not good at all. I drank it anyway. But then, halfway through our conversation, something happened. Both of us stopped talking, mid-sentence.

Something was cooking. And it smelt incredible.

We both looked around, frantically trying to identify the source of this heavenly smell, and then…. there it was. In front of our eyes, the source literally emerged before us.

A quintessential French chef, like a scene out of a 1920’s film, emerged slowly from a hidden underground kitchen. He was holding an enormous dish of creamy, cheesy, dreamy-looking BAKED POTATOES.

The chef emerges from his hidden underground kitchen carrying.

My usual curious self, driven only by my eyes and stomach, was now on a mesmerised mission. I jumped to my feet and walked over, making a beeline to the chef approaching:

“Monsieur, please, what is that exactly? It smells absolutely divine!”

With a big warm smile, ‘Mr Very French Chef’ in front of me responded:
“Ah madame, ça- ça c’est mon fameux Gratin Dauphinois!”

“Ahhhhh! Bien sûr! Le classique Gratin Dauphinois!”
I responded, not at all surprised that something consisting of potatoes and melted cheese was responsible for this intoxicating allure.

However, it was not enough for me, I simply had to know more.

“But what did you put in there? It smells sooooo good!”

The chef chuckled, grinning with pride at the attention, but responding with full modesty:
“Well, it’s quite simple actually… potatoes, garlic, cream and nutmeg.”

“That’s it? What about the cheese, what kind of cheese goes in your gratin?” I queried.

“Cheese? Oh no no, there is no cheese, madame. The traditional recipe for Gratin Dauphinois is only done only with cream, not cheese.”

And from this point on, my ‘Aussie inquisition’ began, and whilst quizzing my new chef friend about his gratin, before I knew it, a mini pot of the gratin had been served up and whisked over to our table.

The culprit: Mr Christian Dauve’s amazing Gratin Dauphinois served up before us, moments before being devoured

We had just finished lunch an hour ago. Of course, we ate it anyway. And yes- it tasted just as good as it smelt- really, really, really damn, GOOD.

So good, in fact that I went back the next day and asked my new chefy friend for the recipe. In the end I got much more than the recipe- I walked away with a full history lesson on the Gratin Dauphinois and a new knowledge and appreciation of the origin of food, including some fascinating facts on the main ingredient- the humble potato.

So for a quick ‘French food history lesson’, this is how the story of the Gratin Dauphinois goes:

Scroll down if this has made you so hungry that you just want to get to the recipe!

Why does the traditional version of Gratin Dauphinois not have cheese?

Back in the 17th Century in the Haute Savoie region of France, cheese was practically a form of currency- it was an aliment of its own. Cooking with cheese it was unthinkable, and would have been extremely wasteful, not to mention expensive.

Farmers would milk their dairy cows in two rounds. The first round was called “le Bloche”– this was literally the cream of the cream. The first round is rich and very creamy. This would be then put aside and sold to local artisanal cheese makers who would produce quality butter and rich mountain cheeses such as the famous Comté .

The second batch of cows milk was called the “Re-bloche” (‘re-milking’) and results in milk which has a lower cream content and is less ‘rich’. The ‘rebloche’ would be kept by the farmers themselves and used for milk, cream, and for making a secondary cheese- the wonderful “Reblochon.”

The cheese was of course sold, and the cream would be used for cooking and enriching regional specialities such as the ‘Gratin Dauphinois’.

How did potatoes first arrive in France? We can thank the Americans.

It’s hard to imagine French cuisine without potatoes- they are such an inherent part of French food today that I never imagined this staple was an introduced product and has only been part of the French diet since Louis XVI in the 17th Century. My new chef friend Monsier Dauve was like a talking food history book as he explained the origins.

Apparently Jacques Quartier brought potatoes to France after an expedition exploring the Americas. In France, Count Parmentier (yes there is a potato dish named after him) a pharmacist, chemist and employee of Louis XVI, planted them in a garden with the intention of growing and harvesting the potato on a mass scale in order to feed the French peasant population. Unfortunately the potato was not an instant hit with the French who, at the time regarded it with great suspicion and fear. Since in its raw green state the potato is somewhat poisonous and not even dogs would eat them, the potato was a hard sell for Parmentier until he adopted a bit of reverse psychology.

Parmentier planted 50 acres of potatoes on a plot of land on the outskirts of Paris. During the day, he instructed a royal guard to watch over it. When the locals noticed that that the crop was of such value that royal guards were protecting it, their curiosity grew and hoards of people came to see what all the fuss was about. The trick worked. The potato gained a heightened intrinsic value overnight, and very quickly attracted widespread acceptance – today being one of the major foods in Europe and the rest of the world.

So that’s probably enough history on cheese and potatoes now- let’s get down to the best bit: Monsier Dauve’s amazing recipe. Don’t bother trying to read his handwritten version in the photo- I’ve translated if for you below. Enjoy!

The original, handwritten recipe given to me by chef Christian Dauve (Here's a pic, just to prove I'm not making it up)

Recipe: Traditional Gratin Dauphinois

(Serves 6)

• 2 kilograms Bintje potatoes
(Bintje potatoes have a high moisture content and are low in starch, making them a ‘waxy’ variety. They are oval in shape, with pale yellow flesh).

• Half teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Here’s how you make it:

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius

Using a large baking/casserole dish- either metallic or ceramic, finely grate the garlic cloves into the dish evenly so the inner surface is sprinkled with garlic. This is important- the garlic needs to be on the base of the dish, and not IN with the potatoes. This way it flavours the potatoes aromatically during the cooking time without having actual pieces of garlic throughout the potato gratin.

Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice them into rounds approximately 3-4 mm thick. And evenly layer and distribute them into the dish.

Sprinkle the sea salt and nutmeg over the top

Lastly, pour the cream evenly over the top of the potatoes. By adding the cream last, it distributes the salt and nutmeg throughout.

Bake the potatoes in the oven for one hour, uncovered. The actual magic happens in the last 20 minutes of cooking when all the ingredients are at boiling temperature and the potatoes soften with the cream then develop a golden crust on the top.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then spend the next hour answering the front door as the neighbours pass by to find out what that divine smell is wafting from your kitchen…

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Gratin dauphinois

When the magazine of good living produced the first Gourmet cookbook in 1950, the world was a very different place. Europe was war-ravaged, while America was rich, innocent and giddy -- the perfect setting for a new Europe, but with better plumbing and wider streets. All it needed were some pointers about the finer things in life.

Gourmet magazine was happy to oblige. By 1957, it had produced not one but two domestic bibles of continental cuisine.

Granted, there were curiosities from elsewhere. The recipes were not just European. However, no other book had quite the same transatlantic elan. Cooking from Gourmet, Volumes I and II, defined you as a person of great sophistication. If you had an Italian coming for dinner, you could produce crayfish risotto. For a Pole, pierogi. For a Frenchman, coq au vin. What the recipes lacked in authenticity, they made up for with the rakish glee of the day. Dubonnet, anyone?

The books went into so many reprints in the 1950s and ‘60s that a generation of baby boomers, including Gourmet’s current editor, Ruth Reichl, grew up tracing their mother’s fingerprints through the smudged pages. Today, as Conde Nast issues a completely revised modern successor, “The Gourmet Cookbook” (Houghton Mifflin, $40), Reichl makes no secret of the desire to tap into the nostalgia.

“As I hold this new book in my hands, I am seven years old again, standing in my mother’s kitchen, enthralled with the romance of cooking, dreamily flipping through the pages of ‘the Book,’ ” she writes. “I know that there are still people out there eager for adventure in the kitchen -- and I know that this is the perfect place to find it.”

Yet more than times have changed. The books have too. The original book promised a kind of fine mischief, beckoning us from familiar foods into foreign worlds of untold glamour. The successor’s posture is more world-weary, the affect of a group that seems convinced it’s been everywhere and tried everything and, in a semi-governmental manner, assumed the task of telling us what’s good and why. Reichl even declares, “Our goal was to give you a book with every recipe you would ever want.”

Gone is the sheer merriment at the prospect of an elegant dinner party. The original’s chapter on hors d’oeuvres opens with the lip-smacking declaration: “To begin at the beginning, note this: every meal deserves a good start.” The new book opens the same section with a whine: “It’s too bad we’re stuck with this snooty French word.”

Problems like that happen to books called Gourmet.

So often, where the original was effervescent, the modern book seems overwhelmed by its own place in history. The original vegetable section, entitled “Greengroceries,” begins, “Midway between Beau Brummel, who once ate a pea, and G.B.S., who can’t see a filet mignon for the raw carrot under his nose, stands the Happy Gourmet.” The new one, “Vegetables”: “If you had shown our original subscribers recipes for grilled radicchio, stir-fried pea shoots, or yuca fries, they would have looked at you in sheer astonishment.”

Perhaps, though it’s hard to picture women unfazed by the suggestion of serving turtle steaks in 1950 being taken aback by the prospect of grilling a red cabbage. What is more questionable is whether these patronizing revisionists would trust modern cooks to know that G.B.S. was George Bernard Shaw.

The new editors clearly subscribe to the notion that less is more. The original Volume I alone had 2,400 recipes this new one, “more than 1,000.” The new book isn’t smaller rather, half the recipes have been replaced by chat. Although the original limited its creative writing to chapter headings, the new one offers an introduction to every recipe.

No discursive impulse is stifled. You come away full of novel tidbits, such as: at Christmas, Swedes serve pan juices with meatballs, not gravy. Much of the padding is sensual. Those averse to deployments of “creamy,” “luscious,” “lacy,” “moist,” etc. should give this book a wide berth.

Owners of the original volumes will find that only so many dishes made the cut. In this culling, the new book is on its best form, frequently improving the old versions. As a series of comparisons cooked in The Times Test Kitchen showed, the first coq au vin had a sour streak, while the revised one would pass muster in a French plat-du-jour place. The original gratin dauphinois was an abomination the new version, borrowed from the authentically French Jacques Pepin, was superb.

You don’t need to try the original risotto, made with long-grain rice, to know that it’s been improved by the use of Arborio and porcini. However, some dishes that weren’t broken got fixed anyway. “Suave” Celery Victor was given a nearly inedible canola-oil and stock sauce in the new version, where the original invited much-needed acidity by merely specifying French dressing.

Other bad dishes stayed bad. Bibb lettuce dressed with butter sauce is as unappetizing now as it always was.

In place of many of the original recipes are products of the 1980s’ eclectic restaurant boom. It’s mixed pickings. The duck a l’orange with a Southwestern ancho chile sauce proved delicious. However, the linguine with scallops and Thai spice is a recipe best reserved for the occasion when your spouse brings home a lover from the office for dinner. The Southeast Asian spice paste clings to the Italian pasta like a thick grit.

It’s hard to see why Gourmet attempted this particular book. The originals were products of their time, a debonair salute to America’s new prosperity. But since they set the bar for 1950s elegance, so much has changed. Julia Child, Elizabeth David, Richard Olney, Alice Waters, Marcella Hazan, Diana Kennedy and Yan Kit So have exposed us to real French, Italian, Mexican and Chinese food. They’ve taught us how intricately the classic cuisines are tied up with place, produce and season, and they’ve changed the way we cook and eat. The idea that the world’s food could be captured in one book seems as antiquated as Sterno-fired chafing dishes.

The conviction behind the old Gourmet cookbooks was that we could re-create the great buffet dishes of a Grand Tour in our own homes. It may have been misguided, but it was more than sincere it was America at its most ebullient. The new Gourmet has no such glee, no conviction, no single style, no season, no locale, just lots of recipes from the test kitchen of a New York-based magazine.

In binding these up in a big yellow book, there are some flat-out winners. It does, as Reichl promises in the introduction, contain what may be the world’s best sticky bun recipe. But in trying to be all things to all cooks, in the end, it is not good enough for any of us.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 pounds (8 to 10 small) Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 ounces Gruyere cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Generously butter a 9-by-12-inch glass baking dish. Peel potatoes, and slice into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place slices in a bowl of cold water as you go to prevent discoloration.

In a medium saucepan, combine garlic, milk, heavy cream, salt, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, and pour into prepared baking dish. Discard bay leaf.

Drain potatoes in a colander, and transfer to baking dish. Using a large spoon, toss potatoes with milk mixture pressing down gently to distribute the potato slices evenly. Season with pepper. Dot with butter, distributing evenly over entire surface sprinkle with cheese.

Place in oven bake until potatoes can be pierced with a fork and top is brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nigel Slater's classic gratin dauphinoise

A t its simplest, gratin dauphinoise is a dish of thinly sliced potatoes baked slowly with cream and the merest hint of garlic. Some recipes include cheese, but I disagree. The dish is perfect with roast spring lamb, though I have been known to eat it as it is with a green salad to mop my plate. The potatoes are generally the yellow waxy sort so the slices keep their shape, though some of us prefer the collapsing floury varieties. A shallow, earthenware dish is the traditional cookware used.

Peel and thinly slice 1kg of waxy potatoes. Halve a juicy clove of garlic and rub it round the inside of a shallow baking dish, rub the dish with a little butter then put in the layers of potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Pour over 600ml of scalded double cream. Bake for about an hour and a half at 160C/gas mark 3.

Restraint with the garlic will be rewarded. The dish needs just a faint whiff of the bulb, and wiping the base and sides before adding the potatoes produces something more authentic than adding it crushed or sliced. Don't skimp on the cream as the top layer of potatoes will dry out. Most importantly, don't cut the potatoes too thickly. That way they take forever to cook and the cream will evaporate long before the potatoes are tender. The dish needs long, slow cooking.

There are many variations, some of which include grated Gruyère or Parmesan, dried porcini, anchovies and even eggs. I tuck pieces of smoked mackerel in mine if I am making it more of a main course, or pancetta. Incidentally, those perfectly round mounds of "dauph" you get so often in Parisian restaurants nowadays are straight from the freezer aisle at the cash and carry.

Gratin Dauphinoise

This dish is my version of a classic from my youth. My mother always makes her gratin exclusively with milk and tops the potatoes with grated Gruyère cheese before baking. Sometimes I use grated cheese in this dish, but other times I don’t, depending on my mood.

It is important not to rinse or soak the potatoes after slicing them. Rinsing would remove most of the starch, which is needed to thicken the mixture as it comes to a boil on top of the stove.

The gratin goes well with a salad of frisée or escarole dressed with a mustardy garlic dressing. One of the greatest treats of this dish are the leftovers, which can be enjoyed cool or at room temperature the next day.

Serves 6 to 8

1 3/4 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
2 1/2 cups milk
2–3 garlic cloves, crushed, and finely chopped (1 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick, by hand, with a vegetable slicer, or with the slicing blade of a food processor. Do not wash the slices.

Combine the potato slices, milk, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring gently to separate the slices and prevent the mixture from scorching. It will thicken as it reaches a boil.

Pour the potato mixture into a 6-cup gratin dish, and pour the cream on top. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Let the potatoes rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Gratin dauphinois

Felicity Cloake's perfect gratin dauphinois. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Serves 6
750g waxy potatoes
250ml double cream
100ml whole milk
2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
Nutmeg, to grate
Butter, to grease
50g gruyère, grated

Peel the potatoes and cut into thin slices using a food processor or mandoline.

Put the cream and milk into a large pan along with the garlic and a good grating of nutmeg, and bring to the boil over a medium-low heat. Season and add the potatoes, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until they are softened, but not cooked through.

Meanwhile, grease a gratin dish with butter, and heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Pour the potatoes into the dish and spread them out. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until browned and bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Gratin dauphinois, a dish fit for royalty, or just heavy French bourgeois cooking? And, inspired by Stevie Parle's anchovies, what twists do you add to yours?

This article was amended on 11 April 2013. The original introduction wrongly stated that the gratin dauphinois was named for the French dauphin rather than the cooking of the Dauphiné region. This paragraph has been removed. In addition, a reference to the River Café, renowned for its Italian cuisine rather than French, has also been removed from the end note.

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