Gratin Dauphinois should be crispy on both the top and bottom. It should have a rich, cheesy taste. Look closely once you take it out of the oven, you will notice the cream has turned into a curdled, cheese-like substance. Don’t be alarmed, this is what makes gratin most desirable. As the potatoes absorb water, you get a concentration of fat and protein, exactly like fresh cheese curds.
- 2 pounds starchy potatoes
- 1/2 clove unpeeled garlic
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
- 1 cup boiling milk or cream
- 2 cups 1/4 inch sliced fully cooked ham (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425F. Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick. Place in cold water. Drain when ready to use.
- If you choose to use ham: Dice and heat in a skillet for 2-3 minutes, season with salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside until ready to use.
- Rub baking dish with cut garlic, then with 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Drain the potatoes and dry in a towel. Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish. Top with half the salt, pepper, cheese, and butter. (ham, if desired)
- Place the remaining potatoes over the first layer and season. Spread on the rest of the cheese (ham) and divide the butter over it. Pour on the boiling milk.
- Set the baking dish on upper rack of preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, the milk is absorbed, and the top is a golden brown.
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