I took the Basic Cooking Techniques class taught by Chef Michael Montgomery at the Culinary School of the Rockies. This five day class covers every thing from sourcing food ingredients and basic knife skills, to basic cooking skills including blanching, braising, grilling, roasting, and deglazing. Chef Michael, shares his passion for good food and people through entertaining stories of french culinary school and restaurant life. He begins each day slowly with a cup of coffee and a review of the days menu, techniques covered, and timing of the preparation of specific recipes. The pace builds throughout the day to a hectic frenzy as all the students coordinate the timing of each tasty dish. The day culminates with a lovely sit down dinner. Wine is poured, the pace slows and everyone relaxes and tastes, critiques, and enjoys the creations of the day. The conversation bubbles with enthusiasm, stories emerge and strangers become friends. I learned alot about cooking in this class, but I think the most important lesson was to slow down, and relax and savor that which you have created.
Potatoes Dauphinois, was one of my favorite side dishes from the course. It is exceptionally good for entertaining, since it can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving, simplifying the chaos of orchestrating a perfectly timed meal.
If you are concerned about fat consumption, cut the cream with chicken stock. The resulting recipe isn’t as rich as the original recipe, but still very tasty.
- 3 lbs potatoes, sliced crosswise in ⅛ inch slices
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
- 1 Tablespoon organic black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon dried organic thyme
- 2 dried organic bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons fine sea salt
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1½ cups Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- Panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Generously butter a 2-1/2 to 3 quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.
- Make a bouquet garni by wrapping thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a square of cheese cloth and securing with string.
- In a heavy 6 quart saucepan, combine potatoes, bouquet garni, salt, garlic, cloves, and cream. Set over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes can be pierced with a fork (about 10 minutes). Using slotted spoon, remove bouquet garni and garlic and discard.
- Spread potato mixture in buttered dish and sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until top is brown and potatoes are tender (about 30 to 40 minutes). Let stand 15 minutes before serving.