Next Restaurant recipe for Potatoes Dauphinoise, pages 84-85, from the Paris 1906 – Escoffier at the Ritz cookbook.
Gratin de Pommes de Terre à la Dauphinoise, Escoffier 4200*
Back in April 2011, I posted that I was excited to have scored tickets to Next Restauarant’s first menu, Paris 1906 – Escoffier at the Ritz. And my expectations were surpassed by the wonderful meal we had there in June. I thought it was the best meal I’d ever eaten! And you know what my favorite part of it was? The potatoes au gratin served with their pressed duck. They were so rich and creamy, topped with a crispy panko crust and thyme. To die for!
They turned out splendidly, not hard at all to make, and just as depicted in the cookbook. I found this recipe much more straightforward and comfortable to cook than some of my other attempts at Alinea Restaurant recipes.
So what we have here is the best recipe for au gratin potatoes ever. Better than Mom’s. My mom used to make them with ham, and called them “scalloped potatoes” when I was young. Perhaps yours did as well. I must say, God rest her soul, that these whip hers.
What is Dauphinoise?
The name Dauphinois refers to the Dauphiné region of France, where this method of preparing potatoes is a specialty. The dish is typically prepared using ingredients of thinly sliced and layered potatoes and cream cooked in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic. Eggs may sometimes be mixed with milk and cream rather than simply using cream. Variations consist of alternating layers of sliced potatoes, Beaufort cheese, pieces of butter, with bouillon as the liquid. When we went to Next, our server told us they used Comté cheese. Did you know that Gruyère is the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) name for the local Swiss version of cheese produced in the area of Gruyères, France? Just as Roquefort is the AOC name for the local type of blue cheese found near Roquefort, France. French versions of Gruyère are Beaufort and Comté.
I brought the cream, chopped garlic, fresh thyme and some salt to a simmer, then removed from the heat and covered to steep for awhile.
After it had cooled to room temp, I strained and returned it to the heat.
While it was warming up, I peeled some Golden Yukon potatoes, then sliced very thin on the mandolin.
Then added the potato slices to the infused cream, and let them simmer until they were tender. Gently simmer and stir so the cream does not stick and burn. As the starch releases from the potatoes, the cream naturally thickens up into a beautifully smooth and aromatic sauce… love it!
I removed the potatoes to my prep area and let cool. The recipe says to pour out flat onto a prepared sheet tray and refrigerate. No idea why, anyone else?
While this was cooling my girlfriend grated some gruyere cheese for the potatoes, and some more with a microplane for the crumb topping. Then I mixed the finely grated cheese with some panko breading, breaking up any clumps with my fingers.
To Assemble and Serve
Putting this dish together is as simple as layering a dish of lasagna. First, I sprayed a ceramic dish with PAM, so the cheese wouldn’t stick.
Then alternated layers of creamy potatoes with grated cheese.
Then topped with the gruyère-panko crumb mix. Ready to bake…
The recipe says to put the dish under the broiler to heat up. I don’t have a small broiler oven or salamander like most restaurants do. So I decided to bake it a while to melt the cheese, then cranked up the oven to the “broil” setting to finish it off.
Kept it in too long, I fear — the crumbs got just a tad too brown. Serving them is fun cause the Swiss gruyere cheese gets stringy like a good pizza!
I served these with Salade Irma and some rotisserie chicken for dinner. Yumm!
Yukon Gold potatoes
Alta-Dena heavy cream
Cloves fresh garlic
Morton’s kosher salt
Gruyère, Comté or Beaufort cheese
Panko bread crumbs
Cutting board and kitchen knife
Salter digital scale
Ceramic boats, ramekins or gratin ware
Yields: Enough for 6-8 servings