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Alexis Gabriel Ainouz's Gratin dauphinois
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"A dish from my childhood that brings back all kinds of happy memories and reminds me of the comfort and warmth of home. My mother would prepare the gratin in a large oval dish and, ever since, I've always made mine in a large oval dish as well – but a red one. I have an awful lot of trouble understanding why people persist in preparing their gratin in a rectangular dish and, even worse, one that's blue."
Serves: 6 - 8
1. Cut the potatoes into 5mm [¼in] thick slices. Don’t wash them as it’s their starch that is going to thicken the sauce. Season the slices with salt and pepper. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add the milk, cream and bay leaf and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Lift out the potatoes with a slotted spoon into a bowl and set them aside. Season the milk and cream with the nutmeg and, if necessary, salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/350ºF/Gas 4.
2. Layer the potato slices and cream mixture alternately in a greased ovenproof dish, seasoning lightly between the layers. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a knife. Take the dish out of the oven and switch on the grill [broiler]. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and grill until the top is golden and crusty.
By replacing the cream with coconut cream and the milk with almond milk,
plus 1 teaspoon of cornflour cornstarch – but following pretty much the same steps – you get a decent dairy-free alternative that's not just fine for vegans
but is also lighter. There are plenty of vegan cheeses to choose from for the crispy topping.
Extracted from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz (Quadrille, £15) Photography ©Dan Jones
For more French Guy Cooking recipes, click here >
This recipe was first published in October 2018.