View Full Version : Gail (or anyone else): Help with pommes de terre dauphinoise!

03-28-2005, 08:43 AM
Okay, so DH requested scalloped potatoes for dinner last night, so I found this thread (http://community.cookinglight.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=72028) with this recipe posted by Gail:


Yield: A large casserole, serving 6 to 8

1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 cups milk, or mixed milk and cream, plus more if needed (Gail note: the sky’s the limit here. Julia says you can do anything from nonfat to full cream. I’ve done this with mostly cream and it is WONderful.)
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus more if needed
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and covered in water (Gail: recommend Yukon Golds)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter for topping potatoes, optional (Julia recommends doing this if you go the nonfat route.)

Special equipment
A food processor with a slicing disk (optional); and 8 to 10 cup flameproof gratin dish, lightly buttered; a cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Slide the rack on the lower third level and set the cookie sheet on it to catch boil-overs.
Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt on the chopped garlic and mash together with the blade of knife, to make a purée. Pour half the milk (or milk and cream mixture) into the gratin dish and add the garlic purée and the rest of the salt and the pepper.
Cut the potatoes crosswise, by hand or in food processor, into very thin slices (1/8 inch or less)—do not rinse them again. Spread them evenly in the gratin dish and pour in the remaining milk. The liquid should come right to the top layer of potatoes—add more milk or cream if needed.
Place the dish on a burner, bring to a slow boil, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly. Scrape the bottom gently with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching. Taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning.
Turn off the heat and dot the top of the gratin with a tablespoon or two of butter, if you wish. Place the dish in the oven, on top of the cookie sheet, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is nicely browned, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the potatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a knife. If not served at once, keep warm in a turned-off oven or set over a pan of simmering water.

(Gail note: I didn’t have a suitable for burner dish, so I heated the milk and cream, plopped in the garlic paste, heated a bit more, then poured half in dish, added potatoes and added remaining liquid. This stuff is good even at room temperature or—I kid you not—out of the fridge. Sinful. Also on my menu again for Christmas dinner.)

I used 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of cream, then heated in a sauce pan. They baked in the oven for about 45 minutes, then I turned the oven off so they could stay warm while I finished some other things. They stayed in the warm oven for an additional 15 minutes. When I took them out, the sauce had separated…water underneath, with a “creamy” clotted layer on top. The taste was great, but the texture was definitely off-putting. So what did I do? Did I use too much milk? Did I cook them too long? Were my potatoes not starchy enough or something? We really liked the flavor of this, so I'd like to make them again, but with a better consistency!


03-28-2005, 05:05 PM
No help here, just wanted to bump before it got lost.

03-28-2005, 06:41 PM
Thanks Pam! Tonight I heated the leftovers in a stock pot with some extra milk, then used my immersion blender to puree most of it. I added in some leftover diced ham and had a pretty nice potato soup! But I still would like to know what I did wrong the first time...it must have something to do with the amount of time it spent in the oven.

03-28-2005, 07:42 PM

I'm honestly as mystified as you are. No, I don't think it had to do with overcooking. First time I made these, I left them in a warm over for a LONG time after cooking. I got a dark brown crust on top, but the inside was scrumptuous and creamy.

You say you used milk and cream. Was this full fat milk or reduced fat? And if it was reduced fat, did you use any butter? And, did you merely warm the milk or actually allow it to thicken a bit before adding it to the potatoes? Since the original recipe suggests cooking the potatoes and some of the cream mixture on the stove to thicken before popping it into the oven, possibly this might've been an issue. But honestly, I'm just stabbing in the dark.

Anyone else who has any thoughts, feel free. I'm not always so good in the fix-it department when I haven't actually witnessed what's gone wrong.

03-28-2005, 08:40 PM
Hmm...if it wasn't the overcooking, it must have been the milk mixture. I used about 2 cups of 2% milk and 1 cup of cream. I added maybe 1 tablespoon of butter, diced and scattered over the top. I think I probably did not heat the milk mixture enough before I poured it on the potatoes. Next time I will be sure to let it thicken more before I put them in the oven. The flavor was great and I will definitely try it again (DH says next weekend! :D ).

03-28-2005, 09:30 PM
I made a similar scalloped potato dish. I used a mixture of low fat milk and cream. (trying to save some calories and fat.) I cooked the mixture quite a while for it to get thicker. I think that keeps the cream from clotting and rising to the top--I have had that happen before.

When I was in France, the family I stayed with made a scalloped potato dish that was so easy. It was sliced peeled potatoes and cream. In a pan about the size of a cake pan, place a thin layer of potatoes. Drizzle on a layer of cream. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Add another layer of potatoes, drizzle on some more cream, season, and continue until the pan is full. The pan should have a lot of cream, but not be soupy. Bake at 400 until the potatoes are brown on top. The cream will get custardy. This is so easy, but tastes so good.

03-29-2005, 06:28 AM
Then that was definitely it...I didn't cook the milk mixture long enough to let it thicken, so the cream separated. I'm glad to be able to pinpoint the problem. Live and learn! :)