savoury delights

royal potatoes

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Royal potatoes aka gratin dauphinois aka potatoes dauphinois aka potatoes au gratin aka a creamy potato bake … Lots of names for one of the most delicious side dishes ever known!

Le Dauphin used to be the title of the heir to the French throne for centuries … while dauphinois is related to the French region Dauphiné where this side dish originates. Dauphin is French for dolphin – a dolphin is part of the coat of arms of the heir to the French throne: in the 12th century the count of Albon was nicknamed Le Dauphin (which was passed on to his successors) & his county was renamed Dauphiné. 200 years later the county became part of France & was given to the heir of the French throne … (something alike the Prince of Wales business). The side dish was mentioned on July 12th, 1788 for the 1st time … (Thank you Wikipedia!)

I used this background to label it Royal Potatoes!

From now on we’ll deal w/ the present & concentrate on preparing the side dish!
(Btw: I was inspired to do it this way by Rachel Khoo’s cookbook from her little Paris kitchen.)

It’s quite simple – only a transformation:

  • from raw potatoes
  • cooked in milk & cream
  • baked in the oven
  • to creamy potatoes …

What do we need?

Not much – it’s only:

  • potatoes
  • milk
  • cream
  • garlic
  • nutmeg
  • Gruyère (if you like!)
  • … & salt & pepper & some butter (of course!).

We peel the potatoes & cut them in slices of about 2-3 mm. I used waxy potatoes: therefore the potato slices will remain firm, however, don’t do the slices too thick!

We’ll use small casserole bowls for the side dish: therefore cut in half the potatoes if too large!

Mix the milk & the cream & add everything (i. e. salt & pepper & freshly grated nutmeg). I prefer just a hint of nutmeg, but feel free to add some more if you like!

Everything marches in a pot to be boiled – means: bring it to a boil & let it simmer afterwards for about 10 min. (Don’t forget to preheat the oven … (180 degrees C fan).)

In the meantime we grease the casserole bowls w/ butter & add some garlic flavour. Cut in half the clove of garlic & rub the juicy edge around the buttered bowls.

Finally our potato-milk-mix is ready!

Don’t panic: I’ve tried it several times & never – NEVER – I had to deal w/ burnt milk on the bottom of the pot! (Means: no scraping, no rubbing, no soaking for endless hours, no special use of dishwasher tabs… only some residues which may be cleaned w/ a kitchen sponge!)

Next step:
Don’t hesitate to fill the casserole bowls w/ the hot potato-milk-mix. If you like some Gruyère for enhancing the flavour add it now: mix it in the potato mess & sprinkle on top.

Don’t fill the bowls to the rim: leave at least 1 cm because the mess will start to bubble in the oven!

(I did 3 bowls w/o Gruyère & 3 Bowls w/ Gruyère!)

… & all bowls march in the preheated oven for about 30 min!

You can be sure that the potatoes are well done, but still firm. The milk-cream-mix has thickened … The Gruyère melted into the milk-cream-mix & covers the top layer …

W/o Gruyère it’s a softer flavour – w/ Gruyère there are little sharp edges: choose whatever you like more!

It’s possible to do it w/o pre-boiling… then you’ll need more time in the oven!

You may prepare the casserole bowls w/ the precooked potato-milk-mix some hours before (or even during the previous day), store them in the fridge & put them in the preheated oven just about 30 mins before dinner’s main course.

You may also use a big casserole instead of small casserole bowls …

Concerning the quantities: you’ll need to adapt the basic milk-cream-mix to the potatoes (the more potatoes, the more milk-cream-mix!).

I reduced the original amount of fat (double cream of about 40% by using cream of 32%) in the side dish … somewhat … it doesn’t harm the softness, but it’s lighter!
However, be careful: I did some experimental work & found that it won’t end well if you use any low-fat cream (about 15%) or low-fat crème fraîche (about 15%) or sour cream (neither 20% nor 10%) or … it’ll coagulate & ruin the potatoes!


royal potatoes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Servings: 6
  • 1200 gr waxy potatoes
  • 350 ml milk 1,5%
  • 350 ml cream 32%
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • about 10 gr butter
  • 100 gr Gruyère grated – optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 1/4 tsp pepper freshly ground
  • about 1/4 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
  • 6 casserole bowls 250 ml
how to:
  • Preheat the oven (180 degrees C w/ fan).
  • Peel the potatoes & cut them in slices of about 2-3 mm.
  • Mix milk & cream, add salt & pepper and nutmeg from a nutmeg grater.
  • Put the potatoes & the milk-mix in a pot & bring it to a boil.
  • Afterwards let it simmer for about 10 min.
  • Grease the casserole bowls w/ butter.
  • Cut in half the clove of garlic & rub the garlic in the buttered casserole bowls.
  • Optional: Grate the Gruyère.
  • Fill the casserole bowls evenly w/ the hot potato-milk-mix.
  • Optional: Add the grated Gruyere to the bowls (mix in & on top).
  • Let it bake in the oven for about 30 min.
Cook Time: It’s the boiling of the potatoes as well as the baking in the oven. If you like it more brown & crispy just add another 5 min to the oven session.
Gruyère: Estimate about 15-20 gr per casserole bowl.
Pepper: Feel free to add more pepper or reduce pepper.
Nutmeg: Feel free to add more nutmeg or reduce nutmeg. I prefer just a hot of nutmeg.
You may stop the preparation after having filled the casserole bowls w/ the hot potato-milk-mix for some hours or even overnight. Just put the filled bowls in the preheated oven about 30 min before serving.
You can also store the ready-to-serve casserole bowls in the fridge & reheat them in the microwave.
Leftovers may be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. (Don’t dream of any leftovers…)