French Potato Gratin

Makes 8 servings Colomba

Gratin Dauphinois is a classic French potato dish enjoyed all over the world. This simple yet elegant side can be served with steak, pork, ham, chicken, turkey, fish, or seafood. What’s the difference between a gratin and scalloped potatoes? A gratin contains cheese while scalloped potatoes are simply cooked in cream.

  • 2½ lbs. Colomba potatoes, sliced into ½” thick slices
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 2 garlic cloves (very lightly crushed to release their flavor)
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ cups crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ⅔ cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  1. Bring the potatoes, milk, and garlic to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Continue simmering the potatoes for 15 minutes, until they just start to turn tender. Be very careful not to overcook them as they need to hold their shape for layering in the pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Drain the milk from the pan and add the heavy cream, crème fraiche (or sour cream), salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the hot potatoes. Heat the cream-potato mixture to barely a simmer (a few bubbles are fine but no more) for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are very tender, but not falling apart.
  4. Coat the inside of a 9 x 13 baking dish with the butter and carefully lift the potatoes into the dish and layer without breaking them up too much. Cover with the cream from the pan. Sprinkle the Gruyère cheese over the potatoes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown on top and the cream mixture has thickened.

You can use the milk that you drain from the potatoes for a milk-based soup. Simply add 2 cups peeled, diced potatoes (any variety will work in this application), a large diced white or yellow onion, and 2 diced stalks of celery to the milk and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the vegetable are soft, about 25 minutes. You can puree the soup, if desired, or leave chunky. Serve with grated sharp Cheddar cheese and green onions as optional toppings.