I've been asked what I mean by special potatoes, so I thought it was high time I shared the recipe. It's dead easy, requires no special equipment (except a cheese grator and/or mandoline) and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
The recipe was inspired by dinner at Mon Plaisir, London's oldest French restaurant, in particular their dauphinoise potatoes. I was a bit unhappy with just how unhealthy this dish is (tradtionally) so I came up with an untraditional alternative. I cooked this for my cousin and her daughter today and Paul Curley, who I know from Twitter asked about them, so here goes.
Serves 2-3, prep time 20-30 minutes, cooking time 1.5 hours (it's worth it)
What you'll need
Large casserole dish
1kg Charlotte potatoes
200g Sainsbury's Special Reserve Gruyere cheese
250g Chestnut mushrooms
200g Smoked bacon
300ml Half-fat creme fraiche
2-3 Garlic cloves
With all of the ingredients you can substitute anything else in the same category, but bear in mind that this is tried and tested; the cheese is a traditional Swiss version of cheese and potatoes and the chestnut mushrooms add a nice kick. With your choice of bacon, try to find a variety with no added salt or sugar, so experiment. Creme fraiche works well because cream makes the whole thing too heavy; trust me on this!
Read the steps below first, as once you get the sauce warmed up and on the go, all of the other stuff is a doddle. It's just a matter of chuck it in a dish and mix it.
Preheat the oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4 (ish).
Preparation - Sauce
Grate the cheese, put a bit to one side
Empty the creme fraiche into the saucepan and put on a low heat
When warm, add the garlic via the press and give it a minute or two.
Add the cheese, let it melt in and stir a bit to smooth it out.
Preparation - Everything Else
Wash and slice the potatoes straight into your dish
Wash and slice the mushrooms, add to the dish
Rind and chop the bacon into half-inch bits and ... guess what?
Mix it all up (I use my hands)
Pour the sauce on top
Put the lid on the dish and bung in the oven
At this stage, it won't look like much - just a dish full of potatoes and 'shrooms. As it cooks, the mushrooms will shrink down and the liquids from all of the ingredients will mingle together so don't worry that you've only got a little bit of sauce.
Every 20-30 minutes, take the dish out of the oven and use a big serving spoon to stir/rotate its contents. After about 1hr 20mins, it'll be about ready and you can test this by grabbing a slice or two of potatoe with a fork - if it's crunchy, it's not ready yet so give it a few more minutes.
When ready, sprinkle the spare cheese on top and shove back in the oven for a bit to make it golden brown and rather yum looking.
The dish is a meal on it's own (hence lunch today) but if you want to be really fancy, you could try serving it with my special duck (recipe coming soon) and some steamed green beans. Enjoy!