Everybody has a variation on the dauphinois theme. This version was first shown to me by Rowley Leigh who was taught how to cook the universally loved dish by the Roux brothers, so the pedigree is faultless. It is unfashionably rich, expensive and unhealthy, so very small portions please.
I don't worry about what sort of potato, though they should be slightly waxy. No cheese is necessary, for the amalgamation of the potatoes and cream produces a cheesy effect. It is vital not to have the oven too hot or the cream will curdle.
I love to eat this with roast lamb, for me a marriage made in heaven.
Preheat the oven to 130°G275°F/gas I and grease the gratin dish generously with butter • Peel and slice the potatoes on the mandoline into a bowl of water. The slices should be about 5mm / ¼in thick. (Using a food processor to slice the potatoes would remove too much of the starch) • Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Put the cream and milk into a heavy saucepan. Grate the nutmeg into it, season with salt and pepper and add the finely chopped garlic. Place over a moderate heat.
Drain the potato slices and return them to the bowl. When the cream mixture is hot, pour it over the potato slices and turn to coat thoroughly and evenly. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Transfer to the prepared gratin dish and pack down firmly with the back of a large spoon or spatula. The mixture should be very liquid and the dish should not be full to the top.
Bake for 1 hour. If the surface is not golden and bubbling at the end of this time, brown the top under the grill.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.