Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti

Jacques Pepin’s Gratin Dauphinois {Scalloped Potatoes}


“Serve the cold potatoes for lunch the next day with a green salad, seasoned with oil and vinegar and a lot of chopped garlic.”  Jacques Pepin

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, full of great food,  good company and holiday cheer.  You may feel the need to lighten up your eating, if you have indulged in a few too many holiday treats.  If not, then you should make these potatoes soon, maybe for New Year’s Eve, a birthday dinner or some other special occasion.   Otherwise, put this recipe in your back pocket for a delicious side dish.  Although these potatoes have long been a family favorite, it is not a family recipe.  The recipe for Gratin Dauphinois {Scalloped Potatoes in Garlic and Cream} is from the first cookbook my husband bought for me.  We spent several snowy Christmases on the beautiful north shore of Lake Tahoe, and it was on one of these occasions that I received The Great Cooks Cookbook: a Good Cooking School Cookbook {James Beard, Alexis Bespaloff, Philip Brown, John Clancy, Edward Giobbi, George Lang, Leon Lianides, Helen McCully, Maurice Moore-Betty, Jacques Pepin, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi; 1974} as a gift.  Look at the young Jacques Pepin!

The Great Cooks Cookbook

I have made a few recipes from this book, including Edward Giobbi’s delicious lasagna that took 2 days to make {homemade marinara sauce, homemade béchamel sauce, homemade spinach noodles rolled by hand, etc.}, but the potatoes are the favorite in our family.  In fact, I could never make enough potatoes for all 8 of us, so my mother-in-law gave me a baking dish that is quite a big larger and deeper than the 9” x 13” that I had been using.  The recipe is really quite simple, but the results are exquisitely tasty.  There is a subtle taste of garlic infused cream that makes you want to follow one bite with another.   And as mentioned above, they are delicious with extra virgin olive oil {just a dribble}, red wine vinegar and chopped garlic.  Yum!

Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois
{Scalloped Potatoes in Garlic and Cream}

2 lbs boiling potatoes {5-6 cups, sliced}-I usually use Yukon Golds

1 lg clove garlic

2 c milk {If I am buying milk for this dish, I’ll get whole milk, but if I already have 2%, I will use it.  They are still delicious!}

1 1/2 c heavy cream

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground white pepper {You could use black pepper, but you will see black specks in your potatoes.  I can live with that, but I usually have a little bag of white peppercorns on hand.  I simply empty my pepper grinder into a little bowl, put the white peppercorns in the pepper mill and grind away.  Then put the black peppercorns back into the mill.}

1 tbsp butter

1/2 c grated Swiss cheese {about 2 ounces}-I always use Jarlsberg or Gruyere since we always have one of these in the refrigerator.

Peel the potatoes, wash and dry thoroughly.  Slice the potatoes fairly thin-1/8” thick.  I use my Cuisinart 3mm slicing blade.  Do not soak the potatoes in water or they will lose the starch needed for the dish to be smooth.

Peel the garlic; crush it with the broad side of a knife and chop it very fine.  It should have the consistency of a puree.  In a large heavy saucepan, combine the potato slices with the garlic, milk, cream, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching {and the mixture can scorch very easily}.  As the liquid gets hotter, the mixture will thicken slightly; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a shallow glass baking dish {I use 9” x 13”} about 1 1/2” deep, and pour in the potato mixture.  Sprinkle cheese all over the top; place dish on a cookie sheet to catch any spills and to allow more even transfer of heat.  Bake for about 1 hour, until potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with the point of a knife.  Let rest for 15”-20” before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Bon appetit!

8 thoughts on “Jacques Pepin’s Gratin Dauphinois {Scalloped Potatoes}

  1. This looks very similar to our family’s gratin dish, but with slightly more butter and no cheese. It is wonderfully creamy I’ve never thought of eating it cold though.

    • According to Jacques Pepin, traditionally this dish is made with all cream and no cheese. The cheese aids in browning; if you use all cream, it needs no help to brown. I can imagine how delicious they would be with all cream!

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  4. We made this for Christmas dinner. It was fabulous! Will use this one again!

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