“This is my favourite way to prepare potatoes. Whether it’s for a casual dinner or a dinner to impress, everyone I serve this to falls in love with its buttery, nutty creaminess. I must confess, however, that I have three pet hates when it comes to potato bakes. One, when the potatoes are drowned in too much cream; two, the use of raw onion; and three, when the potatoes are not cooked for long enough. I am zealous about this recipe and passionate about keeping it simple to achieve the ultimate result,” writes Justine Schofield in her latest cookbook Simple Every Day.
- 1.2 kg desiree potatoes (about 6), peeled
- 200 ml thickened cream
- 60 g butter, ﬁnely diced
- salt ﬂakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 40 g (1/3 cup) freshly grated Gruyère, cheddar or parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 2 litre baking dish with butter. (I like to use a 34 cm x 24 cm oval dish, but you can use a rectangular or circular dish if you like.)
- Cut the potatoes into 1 mm thick slices, or as thinly as you can. Alternatively, slice on a mandoline. Arrange two layers of potatoes in the base of the prepared dish, allowing the slices to overlap slightly. Press down on them to compress. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of cream and dot with little knobs of butter. Season with salt and pepper, a tiny pinch of nutmeg and a few thyme leaves. Repeat this process until all the potato, cream, nutmeg and thyme leaves are used.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the ﬁnal layer of potato and cover with foil, ensuring it does not touch the cheese (it will stick). Bake for 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the potato is meltingly tender.
Tip: You can prepare this gratin ahead of time and ﬁnish the last stage 20 minutes before serving. After baking for 40 minutes, cover and refrigerate until needed (you can do this in the morning or even the day before). Just make sure to bring the pre-cooked gratin to room temperature before popping it back in the oven for 20 minutes to reheat and form a lovely golden crust on top.
Recipe courtesy of Simple Every Day by Justine Schofield (Plum, $39.99).