Monday, 10 December 2012

Dauphinoise potatoes

This is one of my favourite ways to eat potatoes - it's rich, silky, unctuous and garlicky. It takes only 5 minutes to prepare and then you can just forget about it until it's ready. I rarely cook it for myself but it's one of those dishes that's fab when you have guests as it never fails to impress. But I'm currently thinking ahead about a solo Christmas dinner. I've not yet decided what meat to roast (I may just grill a very large steak) but if you're using the oven anyway, then it's worth making a single portion.

Dauphinoise is a bit of a heart attack on a plate if you follow the traditional recipe, so I go for a low-fat version which is just as tasty and creamy but slashes the calorie content. I also like lots of garlic in it.

What you need: 
1 large potato
2 cloves of garlic
300ml tub of low-fat crème fraiche
Butter
Salt, pepper

What to do: 
Grease a one-portion pie dish with a small amount of butter. Slice the potato very thinly - about 1mm thick. Peel and slice the garlic cloves thinly. Make a layer of potato in the bottom of the dish, season, scatter over half the garlic and spread over half the crème fraiche. Repeat then finish with a final layer of potato. Dot the top with a little butter. Bake at 180C for about an hour.

Cook's tips:
If you want to follow the traditional recipe, just cut one garlic clove in half and rub it round the dish after buttering. Instead of low-fat crème fraiche, use full fat cream. Single is easiest because it pours well, but go for double if you're feeling decadent because it produces the most luxurious version.

A large baking potato is about the right size. I don't bother to peel it myself. The thinner the slices, the quicker they'll cook. Don't test with a knife for "doneness" - use a fork as it's a much better indicator of tenderness. If it's not quite ready after an hour, give it another 15 minutes.

Don't muck around with Dauphinoise too much - it's a simple dish and is best kept simple so resist the temptation to add sliced onions or bacon. At most, a tiny sprinkling of grated gruyère cheese will help to crisp up the top crust and add a little extra depth.