15 Jan 2013

From my dad's kitchen, with love (French Potato Gratin)

Are you a talker or a listener?
When you meet someone new, do you tend to talk about yourself or do you make the other person talk about her/himself?

It's really funny how easy you can categorise most people in one of these two categories, particularly on a first date (things would usually balance after a few dates, and if they don't..run away!).

One of my friends who is a champion listener told me the other day : "I don't want to talk about myself to someone who might be out of my life in a few weeks"
Fair enough. I also tend to protect myself by being a listener rather than a talker. Yet, there is always a moment when one has to lower his /her guard and share secrets, if one wants to build a true relationship with someone else.

It's been few months since I've launched Pauline à la crème anglaise
My lovely readers, I think our relationship is ready for it : I'm going to share with you one of my best kept secrets, one of my biggest treasures.
Coming from me, it's worth a love declaration!

The Surprise Potato Gratin

This dish has been invented by my dad, who kind of is my idol. 
Cooking, travelling, taking photographs...my dad is my hero, and my friends have long teased me about it.
The magic of my dad's potato gratin is the hidden sausages that diffuse their flavours throughout the whole dish. It's called the Surprise gratin because you can't see the sausages until the very last minute when you "dig for them" in the gratin!

I strongly advise you to build in a few extra portions, that you can reheat the next day; it's often almost even better!

Ingredient, for 4 / 5 people
1 kg baking potatoes
150-200ml single cream
1/2L milk
1 small glass of water
250g grated cheese, ideally Comté cheese (or more, to taste)
1 big onion, chopped
salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
2 big sausages (I used French Morteau or Montbéliard sausages. Otherwise, you can use any kind of very good quality sausage)

You can find the best Comté cheese and Morteau and Montbéliard sausages directly brought to you from my home Franche Comté at Borough Market in London on the stand "The French Comté": http://www.thefrenchcomte.co.uk/ 
NB: including water in the baking mix helps the cooking temperature to rise up and therefor the gratin to cook better. And it makes it lighter!

Make the gratin:
Preheat the oven at 190°C

1/ Peel and finely slice the potatoes

2/ In a large oven dish, spread the sliced potatoes, the chopped oinon, the grated cheese, and hide the sausages (that you'll have pricked) in the middle. Season all over with pepper, grated nutmeg and a touch of salt (be careful not to put too much salt, the sausages and cheese with already give a nice amount of salt to the gratin)

3/ Pour the water + milk + cream mix all over the gratin until it reaches 3/4 of the height of the potatoes

4/ Cook in the oven for approx 1 hour 30 min at 190°C. Once ready, take the sausages out of the gratin (surprise!!!), and serve with mixed leaves and some French mustard.

What's on the drinks menu Alex?
If you've put more cheese in your gratin, I would advise a white wine:
  • AOP Arboir white, or Vin Jaune from the Jura region
  • A Viognier from Australia or the United States

If you've gone heavy on the sausages, I would recommend a red wine: 
  • A Côtes-du-Rhône, ie a Châteauneuf-du-pape or a Vacqueras
  • A Shiraz from Chile or Australia

Thanks Alex!


  1. Wow, just found your blog whilst looking for Ben's cookies recipe. Now I've ended up here and wow does this recipe look delicious. I only just finished my tea and I want this right now. Fab blog!

    1. Oh, thank you so much Jenni, that's very kind of you!
      Will you try the cookies recipe then? If so, I'd love to know what you think!


Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions!