Gratin dauphinois is a classic French potato dish that you’ll find on nearly every winter table. Perfect straight out of the oven, this gratin will steal your heart.
Step 1: Potatoes
Heat the milk in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic. Bruise the bay leaf to release the flavor, and add it and the fresh thyme to the saucepan. Peel the potatoes. Wash and dry them. Slice them using a mandoline into slices about 1/10 of an inch thick. Add the potato slices to the pan. Make sure that they are just covered with liquid. Heat over low heat. Bring to a simmer and for about 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. After about 20 minutes, when the potatoes are about halfway cooked, season with fleur de sel and a touch of fresh nutmeg. Mix gently. Continue cooking for 20 minutes more.
Step 2: Gratin
Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F (220 C). After the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the milk, reserving both separately. Remove the bay leaf and the thyme. Separate out the prettiest potatoes for the top of the dish, and place a layer of the more crushed potatoes at the bottom of the dish. Dot with a layer of crème fraiche. Cover with another layer of potatoes, and add the rest of the cream. Top with the prettiest layer of potatoes arranging them nicely in a rose pattern working from the outside in. Pour the reserved milk over the dish just to cover. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
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