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Classic French Potatoes Gratin: Sophisticated Comfort Food

Classic French Potatoes Gratin: Sophisticated Comfort Food

By Elizabeth Stark

When I first set out to make a classic potato gratin recipe, I was expecting something complicated. It sounded pretty fancy and so I assumed the recipe would be lots of work. As it turns out, potatoes gratin is a surprisingly easy way to prepare everyone’s favorite comfort food. A little bit of milk, nutty cheese, and flavorful fat compliment this easy casserole beautifully. Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner for two, or just need an easy side dish, potato gratin is a wonderful classic recipe to have up your sleeve.

I made mine with some reserved duck fat, but good butter will do nicely too. Feel free to add a bit of spice or change up the cheese to suit your own tastes.

Classic French Potatoes Gratin (adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

serves four


  • 4 – 5 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Gruyere, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons duck fat or butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a small 6 x 9 x 2″ baking dish.
  2. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes into paper-thin 1/16″ slices.
  3. Layer the slices, like shingles, along the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and several twists of fresh ground pepper. Sprinkle with a third of the cheese.
  4. Do the same for the second layer. For the third, and final, layer, arrange the potato slices, carefully pour the milk over the mixture, scatter the 3 tablespoons of duck fat or butter, and sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove dish from oven and use a spatula to press the potatoes down into the milk. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top, and place back in the oven. Bake for 15 more minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  6. Cool for 7 – 10 minutes, slice, and serve.