French Friday’s with Dorie: Pommes Dauphinois

November 5, 2010

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I have a serious problem with this dish.  I am embarrassed to say that I ate 25% of it  before dinner was served last night.  I am scared to put on my jeans.  Instead of walking my usual 2.5 miles today, I am going to have to double that!  What was I thinking?

The real problem here is that these are so utterly good, that one cannot just take a small portion. With that said,,  eating 25% of the pan, isn’t all that unreasonable.  Is it?  In the past, I have always made Patricia Well’s recipe, Gratin Dauphinois from her book At Home in Provence.  I adore her books and have made many of her recipes, but her particular dish requires one to cook the potatoes in the cream and milk mixture, on the stove, before layering the pan, etc.  An unnecessary step.  Dorie’s recipe beats out any other potato dish of this kind and this is my new “go-to” dish for those nights when I just don’t have time to mess in the kitchen.

Potatoes au Gratin or “scalloped potatoes” as my dad endearingly referred to them as, was one of my dad’s favorite dishes.  He loved his food.  And he loved his restaurants. He was a carbs kind of guy. Happily I admit, I am as well.  As I tempered the cream and sliced the potatoes, all I could really think about was my dad.  He would have loved these potatoes.  And he would have told all his friends about them and he would have talked about them for weeks!

I  got my passion for food from my dad.  I can remember, even at 10 years old, a huge desire to go to the best restaurant I could find.  If someone had mentioned something being the “best”, I would make a mental note and hint a little hint to my dad. Growing up we were in no position to eat in these types of restaurants.  But, there were those rare occasions when he’d step out and indulge.

I felt such pride the first time I ate at Scandia, Chasens, The Bel-Air Hotel, Spago, The Palm, Musso and Franks, and countless others.  And as much as I enjoyed putting on my best outfit, my dad enjoyed it even more.  He looked so good in a suit and the smile that stretched from ear to ear, knowing how excited I was, is a memory etched in the back of my brain.  I know, if he could have, he would have done it a lot more than he had.  Yet, just as much as my dad and I loved dressing up and going to the finest, we also loved a good burger at The Apple Pan, the fried eggs and salami at Nate ‘n Als, the fried zucchini circles at The Hamburger Hamlet and the french onion soup at La Frite.

My life today, centers around food, the home, and my kitchen.  At age 7, when I whipped up that first cake, from scratch, for my dad’s birthday – the feeling was no different.  So as I take another bite of these delicious potatoes, I say thank you to my dad for sharing his passion with me and I also say thank you to Dorie for bringing me back to a place in my life that I hold very, very near and dear to me.

Potato Gratin (pommes dauphinois)
recipe from around my french table

ingredients:
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 lb(1 cup). Gruyere cheese, grated

instructions:
• preheat oven to 350*.
• butter a 2 quart, heavy duty baking dish. place on a silpat lined rimmed, baking sheet.
• in a small heavy duty saucepan, put the heavy cream and the garlic. bring to a simmer and keep warm while you prepare the potatoes.
• peel your potatoes and place in cold water until ready to slice. I use my mandoline to slice the potatoes.
• arrange the potatoes, overlapping, in your prepared baking dish. season with salt and pepper. pour a bit of the garlic infused cream over the potatoes, just to cover.
• repeat this until you have filled up the pan with your ingredients. if you have more potatoes than cream, add a bit more cream so you can see it around the edges.
• sprinkle the grated Gruyere over the top and dot with a bit of unsalted butter(about 1 tablespoons)
• bake for 45 minutes. the dish is done when a knife is easily inserted into the potatoes.
• if you need more cooking time, cover with foil and bake until tender.
• remove from the oven and let rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria November 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I can’t wait to make this recipe! Wow!

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2 Eliana November 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I may need to skip over this recipe in the book as I have a very addictive personality and can see myself growing addicted to it.

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3 Deliciously Organic November 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

What a beautiful post. I’m glad you could relive memories as you cooked one of your dad’s favorites. Now go walk all those potatoes off. :)

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4 Jennifurla November 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm

gorgeous dish

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5 Amanda November 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Cant wait to try this… you are always so inspiring!

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6 Carolyn November 5, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Oh, this is such a sweet post about your dad. I’d better not make these potatoes if they are that good, I might not be able to resist temptation and my blood sugars would definitely not thank me!

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7 scrambledhenfruit November 5, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I think I’d have the same problem with the potatoes- they look decadent and delicious!

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8 Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking November 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

love this post Suz!! You’re dad sounds like a top notch kinda guy :) xoxo

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9 blackbookkitchendiaries November 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm

this sounds just divine..so comforting too. thanks for sharing this.

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10 Steph November 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I cannot wait to make this dish! I love all your layers!!! MMMMMM

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11 Beth November 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

What a great post. I seriously can’t wait to cook this after seeing all your beautiful pics.Thanks for the warning on eating before serving…who wouldn’t when it looks like that ?!..B

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12 Steph November 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm

What a wonderful post and such beautiful memories of your dad. You’re one lucky girl! I’m in LA too, and just have to wait until next week when the weather cools…couldn’t handle the gratin in the 95+ weather in my neck of the woods!

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13 Kim November 6, 2010 at 4:34 am

I really love gratin dauphinois as they call it in France… Of course it’s not a diet thing but we can indulge ourselves sometimes, right???

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14 Lana November 6, 2010 at 6:15 am

I am glad that we are all cooking various recipes this month. What a great way to learn and get inspired1 I am planning to make the chicken and the potatoes the same day next week. If you say that Dorie beats Patricia, I am even more excited:)It seems that all the dishes we voted for were simple to prepare, which is a relief. Until next time, Lana.P.S. I am in Orange County:)

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15 dorie November 6, 2010 at 12:58 pm

What a warm, loving and beautifully written tribute to your father. Reading your story, I could almost see you and your father ‘stepping out’ together.

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16 M. November 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

beautiful, comforting recipe, and what a great tribute to your dad :)

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17 Jane November 7, 2010 at 1:14 am

This is a wonderful post. Your affection for your dad shines through brightly, and this dish sounds completely luscious.

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18 Paula {Salad in a Jar} November 7, 2010 at 2:18 am

Wow! I can tell you adored your father–and these potatoes too. I still call them scalloped potatoes–or at least some version of them.

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19 Deeba PAB November 7, 2010 at 5:19 am

Gorgeous in every way. Love your evocative post, and all the connect to it. Mmmmm

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20 Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food November 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

Whatever they are called — pommes dauphinous does have a nicer ring to it — I’m with you on finding these saucy potatoes to be completely irresistible. Now if only I followed your lead on walking off the extra calories also….

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21 rebecca November 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

What a lovely post. I love hearing about your dad, and it looks fantastic.

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22 Ellie (Almost Bourdain) November 7, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I can’t wait to get a copy of Dorie’s latest cookbook. Loving all these French Friday’s with Dorie post.

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23 The Urban Baker November 8, 2010 at 4:27 am

Hi Everyone,So glad you all enjoyed my dorie inspired potatos. I am still full!Maria – i can’t wait to see your post!Eliana – oh, please don’t skip. make it for company, then you won’t be tempted to eat the whole tray!Carrie – thanks so much for feeling my love for my dad. can’t wait to see you next week!Jenni – gorgeous and delicious!Amanda – you inspire me, girlfriend!Carolyn – go for it and make these potatoes. you will only regret for about 5 minutesscrambledhenfruit – they are super decadent!Gaby- he was the most top notch kind of guy. he would have loved youblackboard – totally comfortingSteph – I cant stress enough on how good they are.Beth – let me know if you make them…I would love to know what you thinkSteph – I know, the heat was brutal last week. But, I mentally committed and I had to follow through. Glad I did. Let me know what you think!Kim – if I come to Paris in the spring, I am calling you…we are going to cook togetherLana – oooo, chicken and potatoes. I am coming to your house. This virtual cooking class is so fun, don’t ya think?dorie – you know I adore you! I want to come back as you!M- it is so comforting!Jane – I adored my dad and you would have to had you known him. Everyone loved him!Paula – he and I adored each other. And we both loved our food!Deeba – that means a lot coming from you! Barbara- I am still walking them off. Heck, it was worth it!Rebecca – I am going to have to talk about him more often. I have tons of storiesEllie – I can’t wait until you get the book. I will await your fabulous, beautiful posts!You are all too kind and I adore you all! Let’s all continue to support one another and encourage each other to do what we love!xx

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24 ++MIRA++ November 10, 2010 at 9:29 pm

i’ve recently had a serious addiction with potatoes..now i want this!

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25 Maureen April 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

How wonderful to read how much your dad inspired you to become The Urban Baker. There’s love in every sentence and I’m privileged to get a peek into your past.

I have to have these potatoes. It’s not often a food can’t make it to the table before the cook eats it. :)

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