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2 pounds medium sized, starchy potatoes (yellow and red potatoes are the creamiest, but russets work as well)
1 cup crème fraiche, or substitute heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sea salt (I prefer Sel de Gerande for its rich minerally character!)
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2-3 small shallots
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoon butter, divided
Choose firm, starchy yellow or russet potatoes. Using a sharp chef’s knife slice them as thinly as you can, or use a mandoline if you have one to make the job easier and more professional. After all, you never know when a Michelin inspector will be stopping by!
Slice the shallots thinly as well and set aside. In a medium bowl combine the crème fraiche and milk, then whisk in the eggs, sea salt, and a few twists of nutmeg; set aside. Generously butter the inside of a shallow round baking dish, then arrange the potato slices in a spiral working from the outside toward the center, like a flower. Sprinkle with shallots, gruyère, fresh thyme, and a twist of nutmeg before beginning the next layer; repeat layering until pan is nearly full leaving room for cream.
Carefully pour the cream mixture into the center and spiral outwards, being careful wet the entire top layer. Tap tap tap the pan sharply on the table to help the cream make its way down to the bottom layers. Top with dabs of butter and bake in a 400’F (200’C) oven for one hour or longer, until the top is golden. Rest for 10 minutes or so before slicing and serve with a crisp white wine or better yet a lovely champagne. Garnish with chives and a dollop of dijon mustard. I’ve chosen a delightful dijon flavored with olives and herbs de provence from Maille to bring summer flavors to the dish; the bright acidity and garden fresh taste provide the perfect balance to rich, creamy potatoes.