I grew up on potatoes and like them in many guises, even, if they’re new and steaming hot, boiled, with butter. For years though, I didn’t cook with potatoes. I had had enough in my time, I thought, and there are all these other starchy foods to have instead. Pasta, rice, even pearl barley. Now I’m back to loving potatoes and this is one of my favourite ways of having them. Boulangere potatoes should be brown and crispy on top, creamy and sweet inside. I am happy to have it as a main with a salad, but it also makes a very good accompaniment to vegan sausages and feels particularly French with steamed fine beans on the side.
This recipe scales well so you can double it or half it, adjusting the liquid to just cover the potatoes. When you’ve cooked it a few times, and know how you like it, you won’t need a recipe at all.
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side. Prep: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.
Stores: in the fridge for up to three days.
- 1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
- 4 large potatoes (~800 grams)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 springs of fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)
- 300 ml water
- 1 teaspoon stock powder, or half a stock cube
- Oven proof dish
- Teaspoon measure, or teaspoon
- Chopping board
- Measuring jug
- Heat the oven to 200C.
- Grease the oven-proof dish with the oil.
- Finely slice the potatoes. If you want to show off, peel them first.
- Finely slice the onions.
- Finely slice the garlic.
- Line the oven-proof dish with a layer of potatoes, then onion and garlic, and potatoes again. If you have lots of potato, or patience, you can do several different layers.
- Stick the herbs into the potatoes, if using, one sprig here, one there.
- Make up the stock in the measuring jug.
- Pour the liquid over the potatoes. Press the potatoes down: ideally, the liquid should just cover them.
- Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Check after 30. If the top is getting very dark, cover.
The potatoes are ready when a fork or toothpick goes through them easily.
- Luxurious: Swap out 100 ml of water for cream for a gratin half-way between dauphinoise and boulangere. Yummy!
- Fresh: Slice a head of fennel thinly and add to the potatoes. It changes the flavour and adds a bit of freshness.
- Pink: finely slice a beetroot (very finely if fresh, less so if vacuum packed) and add to the middle layer. It changes the colour and adds an extra hit of earthiness to the taste.