I love the versatility of potatoes and doing something a bit different with them can really brighten up an otherwise ordinary weeknight meal. Not every part of meal has to be gussied up in finery – just change one thing to make everything else that bit more special. We had these potatoes last night, with (97% pork) sausages and steamed broccoli. It was fab.
Dauphinois potatoes are a traditional speciality of Dauphiné region of France – sliced potatoes, double cream, garlic and seasonings are baked for about an hour and a half to a rich, golden finish.
And there lies the downside of this delicious dish – the length of time it takes to cook. Be a bit heavy-handed with your potato slicing, and cooking time will start nudging two hours. Great if you’ve got an Aga and can set them cooking just after lunchtime – but that’s not very practical for most of us.
Also, the generous use of cream makes this dish extremely rich, which then relegates it to something one might have just occasionally, as a treat.
So here is my solution to both these problems. Dauphinois potatoes with all the creaminess and flavour of the original, but with a fraction of both the fat and cooking time. Ideal for busy people, as the preparation takes only 15-20 minutes, which means it can be thrown together before work. The dish can then rest during the day, to let all the delicious flavors mingle. After work, into the oven it goes, 20-30 minutes and bish-bash-bosh Vwa-as they say-La!
A few notes on ingredients:
- Potatoes – Must be the floury type. Varieties to look for include Desiree, King Edward, Maris Piper.
- Milk – Whole milk, unskimmed, ordinary. Some might call it ‘full fat milk’ but please, before anyone starts shrieking about unhealthiness here, let’s be realistic: Whole milk = 3.7% fat, double cream = 48% fat.
- Creme fraiche – Low fat. Just 15% fat, before you ask. The amount will depend on the shape of your baking dish.
- Nutmeg – freshly grated. It’s awesome.
- Cheese – No.
800g floury potatoes
400ml whole milk
salt & pepper
1/4 nutmeg- grated
30g unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
100-200ml Low fat crème fraîche
- Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. I use the thin slicing disc on my food processor. NB Do not rinse the slices. It’s the potato starch that will be giving the sauce its creaminess.
- Put the potato slices into a broad, heavy-bottomed pan with the rest of the ingredients except the crème fraîche.
- Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. NB Stir gently with a spatula to avoid breaking the potatoes or letting them stick to the pan. At the end of the cooking time the slices will be coated with a creamy sauce. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Spoon the potatoes into the baking dish and level the top. If your timetable allows the dish to rest, cover with plastic wrap until required. To bake immediately, continue as below – don’t wait to pre-heat the oven, just put the dish in and turn the oven on.
- To bake:
- Spread a thin layer of low fat crème fraîche over the top of the potatoes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Test for done-ness with the point of a sharp knife – if the potatoes are fully cooked, there should be no resistance.