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Gratin Dauphinois

Some purists -- the French cook Lydie Marshall among them -- say this classic dish from the Dauphine region of France should never include cheese because starchy potatoes develop a cheesy taste. We grate a little Gruyere on top for a beautiful brown crust. Serves 6.

3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 medium russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), cut into 1/8-inch slices
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
½ cup heavy cream
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about ¾ cup)
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (3-quart capacity).

2. With 1 tablespoon of butter, butter the dish. Rub it with 1 clove of garlic. Chop the remaining clove; set aside.

3. In a large flameproof casserole, combine the potatoes, chopped garlic, milk, salt, and pepper. Toss gently. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes and milk to the baking dish.

4. Pour the cream on top and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with cheese.

5. Bake the potatoes for 1 to 1½ hours, or until they are tender and the top is golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from ''Cooking With Lydie Marshall"

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