Gingergirl: ‘Picking the perfect potato is key’

Helen Keown

Reporter:

Helen Keown

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Welcome to all about food. This week we turn the humble potato into something devilishly delicious. Enjoy!

Welcome to all about food. This week we turn the humble potato into something devilishly delicious. Enjoy!

Ask Gingergirl

Hello Gingergirl,

Help! I recently tried to make Dauphinoise potatoes but I was so disappointed with the results! The cream was very thin and runny even though I followed the recipe step by step. Do you have any suggestions or a foolproof recipe I could try?

Many thanks,

Tara, Annacotty

Hello Tara,

How disappointing after all your hard work! I have a feeling you may have either rinsed or stored the potatoes in water after you sliced them. It is important not to do this as rinsing the potato removes the potato starch that is needed to thicken the sauce.

For those of you not familiar with these sinful yet delicious potatoes, Gratin Dauphinoise is a speciality of the Dauphiné region of France. The dish, uses thinly sliced and layered potatoes and cream cooked in a buttered dish that has been rubbed with garlic…like I said, sinful!

It is important to select potatoes that will not turn into mash as you cook them. A firm, waxy potato like Rooster, King Edward or Desiree will keep its shape and texture during cooking giving consistently good results.

Though the dish is classically baked from raw potato, I find that par boiling the potatoes in the cream and milk reduces the risk of curdling and reduces the cooking time significantly.

Finally, I slice my potatoes using a mandolin slicer (that I picked up for less than €10 some years back). This hand held utensil ensures uniformly thin potato slices in seconds – do ensure that you use the safety carrier to protect your fingers and that the slicer is easy to wash – mine can be washed in the dishwasher.

Dauphinoise potatoes

(serves 4-6)

500ml of double cream

500ml of whole milk

3 garlic cloves

8 large King Edward, Desiree or Maris Piper potatoes

Heat oven to 190OC. Pour the cream, milk and garlic into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer do not boil as this will make the creamy mix curdle. Slice the potatoes very finely, about 3-4mm, add them to the cream and simmer for five minutes until just cooked. Gently stir to separate the potato and to avoid the potato catching on the bottom of the pan.

Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place in a wide shallow ovenproof dish so that they are about 5cm in depth.

Pour over the garlic infused cream (discarding the garlic) - just enough to seep through the layers and leave a little moisture on the surface. Scatter over the cheese, if using, then bake for thirty minutes or until the potatoes are soft and browned - increase the heat for a further five minutes if they are not brown enough.

Recipe Variation

You can add even more richness to the potatoes using 100g of Gruyère cheese, or your favourite firm cheese. A pinch of nutmeg, thyme, sage, parsley or a sprinkle of mustard powder adds another perfect dimension to the potatoes.

Contact Gingergirl

www.gingergirl.ie

email: helen@gingergirl.ie

Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.

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