David Tanis is an award-winning chef and cookbook author who’s always welcome in our kitchen. He’s also been a guest on the Food Republic Today podcast. Pick up a copy of his latest collection of recipes and prepare to see vegetables in a whole new light. This classic potato gratin pairs with just about anything you might serve at a dinner party — keep this recipe handy!
I think it’s a good idea to keep a sack of potatoes on hand so you can make a gratin whenever you get the urge. It’s not so hard to do, simply a matter of slicing potatoes thin, layering them in a baking dish, and adding cream. Once you have the technique up your sleeve, you’ll find the gratin a very useful addition to your dinner party repertoire. It’s a dish with near-universal appeal, and there are virtually limitless variations, such as adding ham and cheese to this classic French gratin dauphinois.
- 3 pounds medium baking potatoes, such as russets, Bintje, or German Butterball
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus more for the baking dish
- Salt and pepper
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, or as needed
For the potato gratin
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water.
Smear a baking dish thickly with butter. My favorite gratin dish is a circular pan 14 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. If you don’t have a large dish, make 2 smaller gratins. Just make sure the dish is not too deep.
To assemble the gratin, place a cutting board on the counter between the bowl of potatoes and the baking dish. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice a few potatoes at a time as thin as possible. Quickly lay the potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them to make an even layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Slice a few more potatoes and make another layer. Continue in this fashion, seasoning each layer, until all the potatoes are used.
Pour the cream over the potatoes and tilt the pan to distribute it well. With your hands, push down on the top layer to even out the pile. The cream should just barely cover the potatoes; add a little more if necessary. Dot the surface with the butter.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and put it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and return the pan to the oven for another 30 minutes or so to finish cooking the potatoes and turn the top of the gratin a crispy, deep golden brown. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving. (The gratin can also be cooled and left at room temperature for several hours, then reheated in a moderate oven.)