Vile Potatoes

A very easy recipe that operates in the same space as boulangère potatoes, dauphinoise potatoes, potatoes au gratin and no doubt others that I have forgotten.


It’s basically just sliced potatoes, onions and garlic baked in cheese sauce:

  • Thinly slice 1-1.5 kg potatoes.
  • Boil them in plenty of salted water. Let them cook as you continue; remove them from the heat an drain them when they’re slightly soft.
  • Melt about 75 g butter in a large pan.
  • Add about 100 g plain flour — enough to make a paste.
  • Mix them together well and cook through.
  • Gradually add about half a litre of milk.
  • If you have it, substitute a cup of chicken stock for some of the milk.
  • Keep stirring as you add the liquid, until you have a thick sauce.
  • Add 150 g grated cheddar and stir in.
  • Add a large, thinly sliced onion.
  • Add three cloves of finely chopped garlic.
  • Mix in the sliced, cooked and drained potatoes, ensuring the slices don’t stay stuck together.
  • Bring back up to heat — the potatoes will have cooled the sauce.
  • Pour the whole into a large glass dish, and cover with foil.
  • Bake for 20–30 minutes at 180 degrees C; or 30–40 minutes at 150 degrees C, or whatever suits your plans. (We often do this along with pulled pork, which we cook at a low temperature.)

10 responses to “Vile Potatoes

  1. Is there a story behind the name of this dish?

  2. You’d think there would be, wouldn’t you?

  3. It looks anything but vile, but horribly complicated to cook. As a single male, any dish consisting of more than two ingredients is too much of an effort.

  4. Oh, it’s delicious. Easy to cook, too, if you can make a roux sauce. (And you can.)

  5. This is similar to something I “invented” a couple of years back (I started off making Dauphinoise, and got creative.) One thing I do differently is temper an egg or two, depending on the size of the vessel, into the hot dairy after simmering the potatoes. This makes the whole thing come together as sort of a custard in the end. Because I do that, I don’t use a roux- the egg is enough to thicken it. I also add a bit of cream to the milk.

    I also cook bacon, and brown the onions very slowly in their fat, adding the garlic at the end. Then I layer the onions, bacon, and garlic with the potatoes, and grate a lot of Parmesan on top. At the end I broil it for a few minutes to get the cheese on top bubbly.

    It’s kind of ridiculously rich, but very good.

  6. Tagore, I like you say you came up with something similar, then explain that it’s different in almost every way :-) Sounds good, though.

  7. I did notice that, and almost commented on it. Perhaps I think they are similar because, while I cook quite a lot of things, this sort of thing is outside my usual ambit. In much the same way that someone who cooked very little in the way of Chinese food might say of a “stir-fry” “I cook something similar- of course yours is Hunan, and mine is Sichuan, but they both have hot fat in a Wok, and chilis. Of course yours has more chilis, and mine has Sichuan peppercorns, and…”

    Actually though, I tend to think of dishes in terms of an internal structure that is then adorned (perhaps an odd way of looking at things, and one that leads me to mix and match in certainly odd ways, like my Italian burritos.)

    Looked at that way, I do think the dishes are kind of similar. Both are about sliced potatoes simmered in dairy, then layered with the dairy, cheese, onion, and garlic, and baked. If you trim away some flavor choices (cheddar/Parmesan, my addition of bacon [and actually pancetta is a better and less consequential choice here, I think, unless you really like bacon,] the caramelization of the onions,) which are adornment… I actually think that structurally the really big difference is the choice of egg vs flour as a binder.

    Of course the adornments are important, and determine a great deal of the character of the dish. But there are a lot of things I cook that I consider to have essentially the same “backbone,” but which come out very differently depending on what I choose to adorn them with on a given day. There are only so many structural techniques I have time to learn to do well, since I’m not a professional cook, but I can vary what I make of them indefinitely.

  8. Pingback: Pulled pork | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  9. Hey Mike! Long time since. Got here from your Pulled pork recipe, which I am going to do soon together with Heikki. But surely not 30-40 hours for the potatoes?


  10. Haha, what a stupid typo! Thank for spotting it, will fix immediately.

    Give my love to Heikki. We do miss him. I sometimes feel like I am the only remaining curmudgeon, left with the role of doing all the complaining everyone else wants to express but won’t stand up and say :-) :-(

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