It’s so loaded with memories for me. Happy memories that evoke bittersweet emotions, pangs of nostalgia and heavy sighs.
You see, it was one of the dishes my dad invented for our weekly Friday barbecue, which we had for decades without fail at our magical family home in the beautiful Egyptian countryside just outside Cairo. I wrote lots of words about this in a previous, extremely feel-y post, which you can read here if you can handle my sappy overflow of emotions. *Sniff*
I’ll just talk about the actual dish here today, because my pregnancy hormones are raging and I really don’t want to drown my keyboard at the moment. I’ll save my daily quota of tears for tonight’s episode of the Egyptian Ramadan drama series we are watching this month.
So, back to the potatoes. I bet you always thought that making a potato gratin was hard, laborious work, right? That it involved loads of precise slicing, pre-cooking, complicated sauce ingredients and general fuss. Well, this version of mine contains none of the aforementioned.
It is a simple as slicing your potatoes somewhat evenly (as you can see in my video below, I am not great at this step), seasoning them with salt and dried oregano, drowning in full cream milk in an oven-proof dish, dotting with butter and baking until done. It hardly requires a recipe at all, and all you do is let the oven do all the hard work for you. My favourite kind of cooking.
What comes out, after the aroma equivalent of a warm hug that fills your home, is a bubbly dish with an irresistibly golden blanket on top and impeccably cooked melt-in-your-mouth-soft potatoes hiding underneath, all snug together in their buttery, milky bath. The perfect cosy winter warmer, simple comfort food at its absolute best.
Make this for your next large gathering, for which it is a saviour of a dish, in all its hands-free yet crowd-pleasing glory. Pair it with this, this or this for basically the easiest dinner party of all time, with the least amount of effort on your side…WIN!
*This post is in collaboration with Harris Farm Markets
- 1.2-1.3kg brushed potatoes, peeled
- ¾ tbsp. fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 40g butter, cut into small cubes
- 500ml whole milk
- Preheat oven to 200 C
- Slice the peeled potatoes into 0.5cm thick slices, keeping each potato’s slices together once sliced (see video).
- Grease a 22-25cm round baking dish (or similarly sized square/rectangular baking dish) with butter, thoroughly coating the base and sides. Arrange the sliced potatoes into the greased dish so that they overlap and fit snugly. Squeeze the ends/offcuts of the potatoes in to fill any gaps between the larger slices (see video).
- Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt and oregano. Pour the milk over the potatoes so that the milk comes up almost till the edge of the dish, leaving just a 1-2cm rim. Dot the cubed butter on top then place the dish into the oven to bake (preferably placed on a baking tray to catch any drips) for 75-90 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly and the potatoes are fully cooked. This time will vary quite a bit depending on the potatoes, so use a sharp knife to check doneness; the potatoes should be very soft with no resistance when the knife is inserted.