Gratin Dauphinois (V, Vg)
Dauphin, Dauphiné, Dauphinois, Dauphinoise
Dauphinoise Potatoes, or Gratin Dauphinois in French, is a very traditional French dish from the Dauphiné region everyone loves; it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, it is easy to make and it’s delicious. The original recipe is made with milk (or cream, if you could afford it back in the days – and when I say “the days” I mean 18th century) and potatoes. Easy, peasy.
Side note – if you want to read about the Dauphiné region and why it is called like that, please visit Wikipédia.
So easy and peasy that I had completely forgotten about it, until my 90-year-old grandmother made one for Ollie and me last February.
My grandmother, my father’s mother, moved from Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria (palm trees and sunny beaches) to the Dauphiné region in France (snowy mountains and icy cold) in 1962 with her husband and her two children. And she never left. She now lives in a spacious apartment near Grenoble, and has a breath-taking view of the Chaine de Belledone (Est) from her living room and can almost touch the Vercors (West) from her kitchen.
We used to go and visit her every year in February to go skiing and I have the greatest memories of those times. Not only because of skiing – which is a pretty amazing activity – but also because of the food. My grandmother was and still is an excellent cook; she can make up a sumptuous meal from scratch and with only a couple of ingredients, but she can also spend hours in the kitchen baking her usual marbré (marble cake) for at least 10 people or cooking traditional Spanish (migas, olla, paella), North African (couscous) or French (gratin dauphinois) dishes.
Since I moved to the UK, I hadn’t been able to keep the traditional February ski visit and it left me feeling quite nostalgic every time I was thinking about it. This year, I decided it was time to revive those types of family traditions, especially as this is the year my grandmother turns 90. Yes, 90 years old. And I think she has more energy and brains than I do!
So here we are, Ollie, me and my dad, ringing the bell of her 6th floor apartment in our ski gears on 17th February 2019. And nothing had changed; the apartment looks exactly the same, immaculate and furnished like it was still the 70s. The marbré cake had also been done in my honour, and a gratin dauphinois was waiting for us in the oven for dinner. Yes, I have to admit that I avoided the “Nan, I am vegan” conversation…so just for her and because she had put lots of efforts and love in this, I didn’t say a word and ate her amazing cake and delicious gratin.
While I was chomping on my potatoes and thinking how great and simple this dish was and why I hadn’t done it yet, I realised how easy it would be to turn it vegan and that’s where this recipe comes from.
Side note 2 – I am now trying to create a great vegan recipe of the marbré, which proves to be quite challenging, but I will succeed. I hope.
A lot of people add grated cheese in their gratin dauphinois, but I think this is a sacrilege (oui, oui). For my gratin Dauphinois, you will only need potatoes, soy milk and soy cream, a bit of garlic and a bit of ground nutmeg. That’s it. I hope you will like it as much as we do (I have converted Ollie).
We had it last time with a bit of French green beans sautéed in garlic, parsley and olive oil and a Linda McCartney vegan beef roast. It was lush.
Gratin Daupinois (V, Vg)
- 5 or 6 big potatoes waxy type
- 2 gloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon of numeg
- 180 mL of soya cream
- A bit of soya milk
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven on 200 °C. Wash and peel your potatoes, then slice them really fine. Peel the garlic and grate it.
Take an oven baking tray, and rub the freshly grated garlic using your (clean) hands inside the tray. Then put a drizzle of soya cream at the bottom, and start arranging your first layer of potato slices on top. Then another drizzle of soya cream, and another layer of potato slices etc…until you have no more potatoes or cream left. Put some salt and pepper in between every two layers otherwise your gratin will be a bit bland.
Cover your potato layers with some unsweetened soya milk, add a bit salt and pepper and the ground nutmeg and put in the oven for about an hour. Don’t worry if the top layer of your gratin starts to look a bit brown; it will give a great texture and flavour to your dish.
Remove from the oven and wait a little bit for it to cool down.
Et voila ! Bon appétit.