Dauphinoise with Parsley Sauce: A Recipe for Those Awaiting Spring

Bright green vinegar-laced sauce brings a surprising, springy twist to this creamy potato classic

Potato Dauphinoise

Serves 4 (if you are fewer, don't scale down the recipe – the leftovers are just as good, if not better)

Ingredients

  • 1kg Potatoes
  • 1 container of Double/heavy cream (the ones I use are 300 ml, but it doesn't matter if you use a bit more or less)
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Milk (I always use whole)
  • Hard cheese (I often use a mix of vintage cheddar and parmesan, but pretty much any salty hard cheese will work — hard goat's cheese is a nice variation)

Method

Peel the potatoes and wash them to remove any dirt. Carefully, slice the potatoes finely using a mandolin (if you have one) or a sharp chef's knife. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them in two.

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan over medium heat with the cream and the garlic. Add a teaspoon of salt and quite a few good grinds each of pepper and nutmeg.

For around 10 minutes, stir this around to allow the flavours to meld and the potatoes to soften. Be careful not to allow too much to stick to the bottom of the pan. The liquid will rapidly disappear; add splashes of milk intermittently to keep a saucy consistency (it's hard to give precise measurements). You're done when the potatoes are no longer raw-feeling and are covered in a thick, glossy sauce the texture of a good béchamel.

Pour this luscious mixture into a small enamel baking dish —no need to butter it first— which should be filled almost to the top. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 160-degree oven for about an hour, then turn down the heat to low for up to an hour more. Check the potatoes every so often with a fork; you want them to be completely tender.

(If the potatoes are already at that stage, you can also proceed immediately to the cheese gratinating step. It's hard to know precisely how long the potatoes will take to be done, but this is a very forgiving recipe; you'll get to know your oven's dauphinoise sweet spot if you make it enough.)

While the potatoes are baking, grate 2 or 3 handfuls of cheese. 10 minutes or so before you want to eat, pull out the dish, remove the foil, and sprinkle thickly with the cheese. Put under the grill at maximum temperature until golden and bubbling.

Allow to cool for a few moments and then serve. Allow everyone to top with lashings of parsley sauce at the table (recipe below). This dauphinoise can be a side dish to meat, fish, or similar, or stand on its own — perhaps alongside a crisp salad.

Parsley Sauce

This easy salsa verde adds a splash of vibrancy to all kinds of creamy things — in addition to the gratin, try it with mash or cheese on toast.

Ingredients

  • Big bunch of Flat-leaf parsley — about the size of a basketball (very much the traditional way of measuring parsley, I know)
  • Artisan Cider Vinegar (Artisan Malt Vinegar would also work well; I wouldn't go for fruit vinegars here)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Method

Wash the parsley (if it came out of your garden, like mine, this may involve a few rounds of soaking to get rid of all the dirt). Spin dry in a salad spinner.

Rather than picking off the individual leaves, simply use a pair of kitchen scissors to separate bunches of leaves from the largest stems. Discard these big stems, or better yet, use them as a stock flavouring.

In a food processor or the chopper attachment to an immersion blender, blend as much parsley as will fit with a good slug each of olive oil and vinegar. As the leaves blend down, add more and more of them until all the leaves are incorporated. Add more vinegar and oil, as well as salt and pepper to taste, until the sauce is the consistency of a good, thick pesto. It should be quite tart.

– Beatrix Swanson

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