Potatoes - 2. Potatoes Dauphinoise

dauphin.jpgThis post continues my series on potato recipes, inspired by the International Association for Potatoes and Onions as a Main Dish.

Years ago, my favourite restaurant used to be Nineteen at 19 Mossop Street where I used to go with my then-boyfriend Jean-Paul (not his real name). It was just off Sloane Avenue and seemed THE place to be as young would-be yuppies back in ’80s London. There were lots of dashing young men in button-down shirts and ties with willowy young women in Hermes scarves and Alice bands - it was a subset of ’80s youth culture: preppy style as interpreted via Oxbridge. The restaurant seems to have burnt down. Jean-Paul is now a leading commercial law QC at chambers in Inner Temple with a family of his own and as you know, I’ve become somewhat more arty, boho and alternative in my lifestyle choices.

Anyway, Nineteen did a great Potatoes Dauphinoise dish, which is essentially potatoes and onions - but not as a main dish. I’ve been adapting it incrementally over the years and it’s most recent incarnation in my kitchen (this weekend, in fact) turned out as follows:

1. In a medium-deep dish (deep enough for 3-4 layers of sliced potatoes) lay down a layer of sliced potatoes - 2 each per person is about right.

2. Then spread a layer of sliced onions (full or half rings; red onions add great colour) and chopped garlic.

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried herbs (rosemary or thyme or sage or mixed herbs or herbs de provence or whatever of your choice) and dot small knobs of butter around.

4. Repeat 1, 2 and 3 until the dish is almost full to the brim.

5. Add the final layer of sliced potatoes on top. Repeat 3.

6. Add a small pot of cream (single is fine, double is extra yummy and if you’re watching your weight, skimmed milk will just about do)

7. Drizzle olive oil evenly over the whole lot.

8. Bake in medium oven for an hour.

You should have crispy, golden brown potatoes on the top and succulent, flavourful soft potatoes underneath saturated with a delicious flavour of herbs and cream and onions. I think, technically, you’re meant to add grated cheese on top - which would be very yummy, too - but I don’t.

You could eat this dish as a main meal on its own, I suppose, but for the truly gourmand experience I’d recommend having it with grilled steak…

Photo: thanks to the b bc

10 Responses to “Potatoes - 2. Potatoes Dauphinoise”

  1. Law Meng Tuck Says:

    The Count of Vienne had a dolphin (dauphin) in his coat of arms. When the seigneurie (Dauphine by name) was sold to the King of France, one condition laid was that the heir to the throne would take the name “le Dauphin”.

    Dauphine is in the south-east pre-Alps region and occupies the modern departments of Isere, Haut-Alpes and Drome. At the confluence of Drac and River Isere stands Grenoble, where I spent one year surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Chartreuse and the Vercors.

    The exhibition hall of the Grande Chartreuse monastery, which I visited, was a veritable chemistry laboratory except that the distillation columns and flasks were of gleaming copper instead of glass. The founders of monasteries, in China and in Europe, had fastidious eyes for scenic locations. Like the Daoist (Taoist), the monks of the Chartreuse order had experimented with herbal concoctions for the elixir of life. Their legacy comes in the form of two liquors: the Green Chartreuse and the Yellow Chartreuse. On dinner invitations, I would buy a Green Chartreuse to present as gift to the host.

    The “noix de Grenoble” is the walnut. For the sweet-tooth, there is the “tarte aux noix de Grenoble”, laden with chopped walnut to be eaten with thick cream.

    A Grenoblois family invited me to dinner and to showcase the regional cuisine, I was treated to Gratin Dauphinois. It was a most memorable dinner because, to me, this humble dish of the lowly potato outshone haughty classical French cuisine.

    I know that I am only inviting the sneer, “This peasant! He can only appreciate ikan bilis (anchovies).”

    But this peasant has standards. Looking down the ingredient list of “Potatoes Dauphinois”, he sees that the grated gruyere cheese did not cross “la manche”. Without the glutamate in cheeses, what would be missing would be the tastinesss, which monosodium glutamate (MSG) arouses.

  2. Yang-May Says:

    You’re right, Meng Tuck, the original recipe should have cheese on top and it makes it quite a heavy dish. I guess I’ve anglicised it - or perhaps Malaysianised it? I never used to like cheese when I first came to England, especially the stinky ones - it was like eating milk that had gone off! Now, I’ve grown accustomed to it and actually quite like a good strong stilton. (And to think that Westerners find the durian stinky!)

  3. Nina Blackwell Says:

    Am I correct in assuming both the potatoes and onions are raw when placed in the medium deep dish?
    Thank you.

  4. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Hi, Nina - yes, all the ingredients re raw. If you’re going to try the recipe, let me know how it turns out!

  5. jan Says:

    hello Yang-May
    The durian stinky, yep, like the nappy of a mothers milk fed babe and texture looks the same too but what a fruit, almost adictive few foods leave me with the same raptures of gastronomic bliss, shame they are so expensive
    question how do you know when you have a good one ?

  6. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    jan - I love your description of the durian like the nappy of a baby!

  7. Judah Soledad Says:

    You seem gourmand enough for me, so I’ll ask.

    At work (I’m a writer-proofreader) the project manager nixed a spelling of dauphinoise to dauphin for a menu item at a big corporate bigwig dinner awards ceremony.

    She did not ask me to explain myself, just went and made both words one. So my question is: Is potatoes dauphinoise a different dish than some dauphin potato dish? I am assuming the two words/spellings implies two distinct dishes. Knowing for sure would help clear this matter up for me at work.

    Thank you. I’m writing from a suburb of Chicago, home of the latest Nobel winner. I’m sorry, I meant to say “lamest” Nobel winner.

  8. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Hi Judah, I’m afraid I don’t know if there is any difference in those two recipes other than a linguistic one. I just know that I like to eat it!

  9. Jill Says:

    I came across you all while hunting up a recipe for Dauphinoise potatoes (thank you).
    According to Wikipedia Dauphin potatoes is a very different dish wish the potato combined with Chou pastry. I wonder which was actually being served at that bigwig dinner?

  10. Mary Bellinghausen Says:

    We’ve just discovered the greatness of farming in our own garden, I have to say potato soup is our favourite of the month. I found a website dedicated to potato soup recipes, which is quite amazing when you think about it. There’s a website for everything nowadays it seems!

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