Slightly adapted from Bistro Cooking, this recipe is ridiculously easy for the stunning, elegant, delicious dish it creates. It is a variation on the typical potato-and-crème-fraîche gratin from the Dauphine region in south-east France, in that cheese is added. I think of this as typical of French cooking—a few ingredients of excellent quality create magic when cooked together.
Start with starchy potatoes—Russets are best but Yukon Gold work well, too. Crème fraiche is traditional and increasingly easier to find in the States, but heavy cream works just as well. Garlic’s contribution seems small, but it is essential to the underlying complex flavor. And in my opinion, Gruyère cheese is indispensable and worth the extra pennies.
1 garlic clove, cut in half
2 lbs. baking potatoes, such as Russets or Yukon Gold, peeled and
sliced as thin as a coin
1 cup freshly grated French or Swiss Gruyère cheese
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
Salt (sea salt if available)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Thoroughly rub the inside of a 6-cup porcelain or heatproof glass gratin dish with the cut side of the garlic clove. Rub until all surfaces are coated with garlic.
- Layer half of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Spread with half of the cheese and then half of the crème fraîche or cream. Season with salt—about ½ teaspoon. Optional: finely chop and add the rest of the garlic.
- Add another layer, repeating the above steps, using the rest of the ingredients.
- Bake uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cream is bubbling around the sides.
- Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6