Coincidentally Dauphinoise is a dish of French origins – I’d love to say I planned it that way as a pre-trip feature, but it only occurred to me as I was cooking it for the second time last weekend. On Saturday evening, I made this particular recipe for the first time, as an accompaniment to white fish for a dinner party and it ended up being the star of the show – hence having to cook it again on Sunday to photograph and post in response to requests from those dinner guests.
I should explain Dauphinoise is a long time favourite dish of Mel & I, but the recipe we were using, though incredibly tasty, was a little fiddly and proved to have a pretty inconsistent cooking time. My last attempt actually ended up taking a three-hour stretch to cook, which personally I just don’t have the time or patience for. In contrast this recipe is a revelation, the moisture to help cook the potatoes comes from the blanched chard that lies between each layer and the shallot, garlic, nutmeg, bay leaf and thyme sprigs allow you to infuse the cream with fabulous flavours in advance. Most importantly it genuinely only takes 50 minutes in the oven and it’s equally delicious.
Potato and swiss chard dauphinoise
1 lb Swiss chard
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
6 oz grated Gruyere
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 small shallot, quartered
3 thyme sprigs (one for sprinkling on top)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
3 lbs (5-7 medium) white potatoes (skins on & washed)
1 tbsp butter
Sea salt & pepper
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil; set a bowl of iced water on the side nearby. Boil the chard until tender, 3 to 5 minutes, and then transfer with a slotted spoon into the iced water. Give it a few minutes of chilling (whilst you marvel at its vibrant shade of green), and then drain and squeeze or pat dry with a clean tea towel before roughly chopping. I chose not to include the thicker part of the stem the second time around and preferred it without, but up to you.
Into a small saucepan pour the cream and throw in the smashed garlic clove, quartered shallot, 2 of the sprigs of thyme, and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by about half, approximately 20 minutes. Strain or pick out the solids and add in the grated nutmeg.
Meanwhile slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds with a mandoline or sharp knife. Butter a 12-14 inch gratin dish and begin to assemble your Dauphonise by layering in the following order: a single slightly overlapping layer of potato slices, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, one-third of the Gruyere, half the Swiss chard and about one-third of the reduced cream, Repeat once or twice more (depending on the depth of your dish) and then finish on a layer of potato with salt, pepper, the remaining cream and top with Gruyere and a sprinkling of thyme leaves.
Makes a fantastic side dish for simply cooked white fish, or my personal favourite with steak - Lorna