I was trying to remember whether this dish was called Pommes Dauphinois or Pommes au Gratin or something else when I realised it was just plain old cheesy potatoes, the sort we ate all the time when young. It varies from the classic French recipe because of incorporating a white sauce instead of only cream. See what you think
4 medium potatoes, half a pint (300ml) semi skimmed milk, 1 Tbsp white flour, 100-150g/4-5 oz cheese ( I used good cheddar and Lancashire) 120ml/4oz crème fraîche, one leek, two fat cloves of garlic, a knob or two of butter, black pepper and salt.
Wash and thinly slice the potatoes, leek and peeled garlic cloves. Put a knob of butter in the pan, add the leeks and cook gently until the leeks have softened. Remove them and do the same with the potato and garlic. Make a white sauce using more butter, about a tablespoonful of flour and the milk. Stir or whisk together and heat slowly in a thick pan until the sauce thickens. Add the salt, pepper and crème fraîche and turn off when it starts to bubble again. Chop or grate the cheese and stir half into the sauce. Layer the potatoes and leeks into a buttered oven dish. Pour over the white sauce and use a wooden spoon to get it through the layers. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake at 200°C for an hour. Then have a look – depending on what you see either cover it, turn up or down and leave till crunchy on top and soft in the middle. It might need another 30 minutes. This depends on your actual oven temperature, thickness of the potato slices and the ratio of sauce to potato. Leave to cool before eating.
Serve with a salad, or as a side with some roast meat or fish. It’s shown above with baked haddock and roast tomatoes. I know, I know, fish and cheese, right? But definitely food to make me feel happy despite the cold weather and difficult times.
And as this is such a nostalgic dish for me, how about listening to Purple Rain* while you eat? ‘This one is for Wendy and Lisa …’
- 1984 Prince and the Revolution