By SIMON WEBSTER
Yes, that’s right if we can have a Christmas pickle, why not a Christmas potato? Potatoes are probably the most versatile ingredient in the kitchen, but we always cook them the same way.
Whole baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato salad, roasted red potatoes – yeah, yeah, yeah – show me something else in the potato department.
Lately, I have been making a lot of Dauphinoise potatoes. This potato dish is sliced very thin and layered with plenty of cheese, onions, cream and milk. It is one of my favorites.
This recipe is one of the first ones I did for the restaurant I began working for at the age of 16 in Auckland, New Zealand. I would make trays and trays of Dauphinoise potatoes. Actually, we used an even better vessel – beautiful French Le Creuset baking dishes.
This was a very formal, silver-service restaurant so each dish had to be perfect with no burnt edges. The chef in the kitchen was a bit of a tyrant, similar to Gordon Ramsey, but not with the swear words. That was a time of decorum, but in appropriate language.
However, if things weren’t cooked right you didn’t need words to know. Dishes would fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
We made sure it was right and each dish was made with the most special care.
The restaurant is still there with the same owner since the early 1970’s. It continues to have the same reputation for quality, luxury and great food.
Many of the things I cooked there I continue to cook at Sabor a Pasion. Modern cuisine may come and go, but good food remains the same.
I have a great appreciation for proper place settings and service pieces, along with elegant surroundings, but now I prefer to present great food in a comfortable and friendly setting. Yes, the food is still made with the same care and attention to detail as luxury restaurants, but you can enjoy it in a relaxing atmosphere.
So whip up some Christmas potatoes and enjoy their creamy layers at your own holiday dinner.
Simon’s Dauphinoise Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 cups milk
I onion, thinly sliced
1 ounce butter
3 ounces white cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste
Thinly slice potatoes on a mandoline or the slicing attachment of a food processor. In a saucepan, bring milk, onions and garlic to a boil and turn off heat. Line your favorite oven-proof dish with the sliced potatoes. Season every second layer with salt, pepper, nutmeg, grated cheese and milk mixture. Reserve a small amount of milk sauce for the top of the dish. (Discard garlic pieces.) When dish is full, add rest of the milk sauce. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and butter.
Bake in oven set at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to www.saborapasion.com or call 903-729-9500.