Oh Julia: Gratin Dauphinois

I am writing this post in the 95 degree heat in my un-airconditioned apartment, the sun beaming in (and the fan BLASTING).  Fortunately, I am also enjoying a bowl of yogurt with fresh blackberries, courtesy of our CSA: finally they realized berries were in season!

They also realized, after a fairly disappointing last two weeks, that they weren’t giving us enough veggies.  They loaded us up this week – so trust me, you are in for some treats.  For some reason, since they gave us potatoes, we decided to gratin them.  Even though, I know, it is not December, it is not snowing, and we do not have the fireplace going. But who doesn’t want to bake a hearty dish when the temperature is pushing 100? I didn’t know either.

So here is our variation on Julia’s Gratin Dauphinois.  It’s a tad bit unorthodox, but the method is spot-on Rhone Alpes, so just leave out the onions, mushrooms and pancetta if you please.  But you must use heavy cream: I implore you.

Gratin Dauphinois

gruyere cheese
a clove of garlic
butter (this is french food we’re talking about)
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper

mushrooms, quartered
onions, chopped
pancetta, chopped


Slice the potatoes.  As you slice them, place them in a bowl of cold water.  When all of the potatoes are sliced, rinse and dry them before putting them in a large pot on the stove.  Fill the pot with milk until the potatoes are covered.  Bring to a low boil, and cook the potatoes for 15-20 minutes in the milk.

While the potatoes are cooking, prep the rest of the dish: make sure everything is chopped and the cheese is grated.  Take the deep dish casserole dish you’ll be baking the gratin in (if only I had a Le Creuset…) and rub the edges and bottom with the glove of garlic (I then chop up the garlic and throw it in with the rest of the veggies, but this is again optional – though rubbing the dish is not!).  Then butter the dish.

When the potatoes are ready, build the gratin.  Layer about half of the potatoes into the dish, then top with half of the cream, half of the cheese, salt, pepper, and half of the veggies.  Put most of the rest of the potatoes on top of that, followed by the rest of the veggies and a little bit more salt and pepper.  Then put a last layer of potato, pour the rest of the cream into the dish, and grate the rest of the cheese on top.  I then dot it with butter (maybe 1/2 tablespoon – this dish is already rich enough!).  Bake in the oven at about 350 degrees for about an hour.

Let it cool before you eat it!  This is not worth waiting the 2 hours to get everything together, only to burn your tongue and not be able to taste anything!

We photographed ours (of course!), J and I, but the thing was so close to golden brown that it looks like its glowing in the photographs!

As my dad has been saying in falsetto since he saw a recent Meryl Streep film…

Bon Appetit!


One thought on “Oh Julia: Gratin Dauphinois

  1. Poonam says:

    in similar fashion, i whipped up julia’s boeuf bourguignon on saturday night. we had to move 2 fans into the kitchen to survive the heat of the oven and stoves being on, plus the super-fun humidity. BUT on the plus side, most of the cooking involves simmering, which you don’t have to be in the kitchen for. AND it was delicious.

    i’m reading My Life in France, on your recommendation! 🙂

    PS. i’m sad i missed eating what promised to be a fantastic meal.

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