Thursday, May 14, 2009
My husband isn't diplomatic when it comes to his favourite vegetable, the potato. He loves it far more than any other, and would gladly consume it year long as his only vegetable intake. His favourite dinner is a simply seasoned eye fillet steak with a serving of mashed potatoes, or potato fries, or baked potato...you catch my drift.
I also love the potato; it helped sustain me through each tightening of my braces when all I could eat was mush. I have never met one person who has turned their nose up at the humble, yet completely satisfying and comforting potato. If I had to chose my favourite dish it would have to be potato dauphinois, or gratin dauphinois . Unfortunately, it is the dish I have had the biggest problem with getting right. My most common problem has been that I have ended up with partially cooked potatoes. Parboiling may have prevented this, but each recipe it happened with did not call for parboiling. There is nothing more disappointing after a long wait, smelling it's glorious scent while baking, than ending up with a basically inedible dish.
I had basically given up hope of finding a foolproof dish and was not motivated to try another. However, on a recent trip to a gourmet food shop I stumbled upon signed copies of Shannon Bennett's cookbook, My French Vue. Having heard of his restaurant's stellar reputation I purchased it and raced home to leisurely read through it.
I pondered what recipe to try first until I turned the page to see my Achilles Heel, the Pommes Dauphinois. The photograph looked so gloriously delicious, and I thought, perhaps another try is in order.
2 tbs olive oil
4 shallots, diced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.5L pouring cream
6 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
8 large Sebago potatoes, peeled
Preheat oven to 180C.
Put the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan on low heat and cook shallots and garlic until tender.
Add cream and thyme and reduce by 2/3. Season.
Using a mandolin (V-slicer), slice potatoes to 3mm thick. Put into a bowl of water.
Line the base of a 30cm x 30cm baking tray with greased baking paper.
Ladle small amount of cream into dish, top with sliced potatoes, season and repeat unit tray is half full. Cover tray with foil and bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours.
ease: 4/5. Takes a while.
prep time: 30mins - my cream took a while to reduce.
cooking time: 1 & 1/2 hours.
taste: 4/5. Finally! Tender potatoes and a creamy sauce. Whilst I under seasoned it a bit, it was still unctuous with sweet hints of garlic and shallots. I would add more thyme as I felt it was slightly overshadowed by the indulgent cream.
8 potatoes is about 4 too many, I do not think the cream would be enough to coat 8 potatoes worth. The instructions are to fill the tray half way - I filled mine to the top and I still had 4 potatoes worth of slices left. I could only find 3 decent shallots at my grocer so that is what I used.
would I make it again: Yes - with a few tweaks here and there this would be perfect.