So this thing that’s been going around, that always seems to go around this time of year, has officially hit me. I am suffering the classic symptoms: an excess of rosé drinking, chocolate croissant eating, and steak au poivre cooking. Frequent purchases of glossy hardcover books relating to bouchons and bistros. Ending transactions at wine and cheese shops with a loud and resounding, “Merci!” Yes, my friends, I have caught La Maladie Français, also know as the overwhelming desire to be eating French food and drinking French wine in France.
It probably began when Mike and Angela (of illicit cheese couriering fame) were on their recent trip to France. Or when Faith at The Kitchn started posting ridiculously gorgeous pictures of her charming apartment rental in Paris. And maybe when I started to see all the 2012 rosés in full force at the shop. Or when I started reading the only book on rosé I have been able to track down, about British expats who scour the French countryside for the palest bottle of rosé in existence.
And yesterday Chronicle Books was having a sale in the building, so I picked up a copy of The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. I was only able to flip a few pages in before I spotted her beautiful Gratin Dauphinois and knew that I was going to have to make it for dinner immediately. I promptly ran over to the Ferry Plaza and was delighted to find Prather Ranch had put some gorgeous filet mignons on a 2-for-1 sale (!) and that the mushroom seller had some gorgeous organic shiitakes on special as well.
So last night’s menu consisted of creamy scalloped potatoes, steaks with mushroom and red wine sauce (is there truly anything better than shallots and mushrooms cooked down in butter, drowned in wine, and finished off with a swirl of more butter?) and a crisp green salad, accompanied by a 2009 Le Relais de Durfort-Vivens Margaux. I’ll give you my slightly adapted recipe for Rachel’s Gratin Dauphinois, but you would be doing yourself a huge favor to just go pick up the book yourself and give some of the other recipes a whirl. And be careful! You might just catch La Maladie Français yourself!
(Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen)
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
chopped chives (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch rounds. Rachel likes hers peeled, but I leave the skins on mine– there’s more fiber and vitamins in there, and yukon gold skins are very tender and tasty to boot. Put them in a pot with all the ingredients save the butter. Heat until just boiling, then turn the stove off and cover the pot. Rest for 10-15 minutes, giving a few good but gentle stirs. (This encourages some of the starches to release from the potatoes and thicken the milk/cream mixture. )
Rub the butter all over your pie pan / gratin dish / casserole. Leave little dollops of butter all around the bottom.
Carefully transfer slices to pan. I used tongs here as my potatoes were still very hot. Don’t worry too much about making them all line up or look pretty– everything looks good once it’s bathed in cream! Pour the cream all over, getting into the nooks and crannies.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are pierced easily with a knife and the top is getting nicely browned. Let cool before attempting to serve and eat! This one is very hot.