Sarah and I have had a very strange week. One of those weeks where everything happens at once, my trusty bike Raelene Golden Wheel was stolen, the petrol from my car was syphoned, and on a much larger scale, Sarah rushed to rural NSW to see her sick grandfather who very sadly passed away on Wednesday last week. She is still at her grandfather’s farm with her family and Nanna. At the farm it has been raining for days, the night before her grandfather died he was walking around the veranda and checking on the livestock. For me it seems a little strange to be writing about a potato gratin in amongst all of this, but Sarah says all she has been doing for the past week is cooking. On Saturday she made this gratin for a family BBQ. I love the tradition of cooking for those in mourning; the comfort found in full bellies and shared meals.
My aunt taught me this recipe over Christmas. It is simple to make. My favourite thing about it is the contrast in textures. The slices that are protected from the full heat of the oven are creamy and soft, and all those little edges that are exposed and brushed in butter become crunchy. You can make this two layered, but I like the delicacy of the single layer of potato – but of course if you are feeding more than four people I recommend the double layer.
1 clove of garlic, chopped
25g butter, melted
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
50ml pouring cream
Preheat the oven to 180C. Add the garlic to the melted butter and using a pastry brush, brush the inside of a flat ceramic dish with the buttery mixture. Having sliced the potatoes and kept them neatly in the shape of the potato, lay the potatoes on the bottom of the dish, pushing them flat so that they make a fan pattern on the bottom of the dish. This is necessary for both presentation and achieving the desired contrast in crunchy/creamy textures. Brush the potato with the remaining butter mixture. Cook for approximately 45 minutes – or until potato is cooked through and crunchy on top. Approximately 10 minutes from the end remove the dish from the oven and pour over the cream. Return to the oven for the last 10 minutes – the cream should disappear in this time.