On New Year’s Eve here in Sweden, most people settle down to a dinner of oven-roasted fillet of beef with potato gratin. It’s as predictable as the fireworks that follow at midnight.
As an Englishman abroad I usually protest and cook something altogether different; partly just to be stubborn; partly because I think fillet of beef is over-rated and over-priced: just being the smallest cut of beef, doesn’t make it the best.
But a good potato gratin, on the other hand, is something to savour, any night of the year. There’s something about the combination of potatoes and cream that is at once frighteningly unhealthy and shockingly comforting.
As it’s so close to Christmas I treated the family yesterday by quitting work early and preparing a Wednesday feast. I bought a chunk of fantastic locally-raised aged sirloin of beef and all the requisites for a killer potato gratin.
I simply rubbed the beef with olive oil, sea salt an d black pepper and roasted it till medium rare. With the potatoes and some broccoli it was perfect simplicity and one of the most luxurious meals you could think of; even more so as it was a regular Wednesday and not New Year’s Eve.
Perfect Potato Gratin
- 1 kg floury potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 dl grated cheese ( I used a sharp, Swedish Västerbotten, but Emmental works well)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
- 3 dl double cream
- 1 glass white wine
Set your oven to 170C
Peel the potatoes and the garlic and slice (potatoes to about 2 cm in thickness, garlic to as thin as you can manage)
Peel the onion, half it lengthways and slice into half-circles, about 1 cm thick
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and transfer into an oven-proof dish, making sure the potatoes lie flat and as tightly packed and layered as possible
Cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours until browned, thick and bubbling