From Todd This is an all-time favorite cold-weather dish. If I were given the chance to choose the dishes for my final feast, these potatoes would be among them. The beauty is in the simplicity of technique. There is no cheese—just cream, which is allowed to slowly cook its way into the potatoes, gently breaking down and helping to form a final crust. To keep the cream from burning, you’ll break the crust with the back of a spoon every twenty to thirty minutes, allowing a fresh layer to makes its way to the top. Then in the final half hour, the top is left untouched, allowing it to bake into a beautiful golden cover.

If you are making a large batch, put the peeled potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from browning. This is also a great opportunity to hone your knife skills, but for an alternative method, slice with a mandoline or food processor slicing blade. Personally I prefer slicing by hand; it’s a bit meditative, with the added challenge of playing with a sharp knife.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 pounds (1.8kg) potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 ½ cups (600ml) heavy cream

Method

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Crack the garlic cloves to break them up slightly, then use them to rub the insides of a 2-quart (2-L) baking dish. Set the dish aside.
  3. Peel and slice the potatoes inch (3mm) thick.
  4. Put the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Get your hands in there and toss well to coat the slices evenly. Slap a potato slice against your tongue to test for seasoning. It should be noticeably seasoned but not overpoweringly so.
  5. Layer the potatoes into the prepared dish, smoothing the tops so they are fairly level. Pour the cream over the potatoes to the point where you can press down on the top layer and the potato slices disappear under the cream. Press the slices down a couple of times, then taste the cream for seasoning. Add a sprinkle of salt, if needed.
  6. Bake for a total of 1 ½ to 2 hours (larger batches will take longer than smaller ones). Every 30 minutes or so, open the oven and, using the back of a large spoon, break the crust the cream is starting to form. On the final crust-breaking, the consistency of the cream should be noticeably thicker and it should have been fairly well absorbed into the potatoes. For the final 30 minutes of baking, leave everything untouched, in order to form a crisp golden top. The cream should be almost fully absorbed, leaving just a bit of creamy butteriness between the potato slices.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. The potatoes will retain an intense heat for at least 15 minutes.

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