Classic Potato Gratin
2 lb. Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled
3 cups heavy cream
1 large clove garlic , peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups half-and-half
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub bottom and sides of 5- to 6-cup gratin dish or shallow baking dish with garlic. Mince remaining garlic and set aside. Once garlic in dish has dried, about 2 minutes, spread dish with half the butter.
Bring half-and-half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne (if desired), potatoes, and reserved garlic to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon (liquid will just barely cover potatoes). Reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens, about 2 minutes.
Pour potato mixture into prepared dish; shake dish or use fork to distribute potatoes evenly. Gently press down potatoes until submerged in liquid; dot with remaining butter.
Bake until top is golden brown (basting once or twice during first 45 minutes) about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.
Pairs Well With
Look for a good-quality Gruyre which will be mellow and nutty. For a more pronounced crust, sprinkle three tablespoons of heavy cream or grated Gruyre cheese on top of the potatoes after forty-five minutes of baking.