Boulangère - baker in french - gives its name to this potato dish because after the bakers had finished baking their bread for the day, the locals would take their pot of potatoes to bake in their ovens as they cooled down.
Sliced potato is layered with veal stock and seasoned. For the best texture use a mandolin as shown in the dauphinoise entry. Caramelised onions can also be added.
It is then covered with foil which creates steam inside - it is this steam which cooks the potato. Cooked for about 1 ½ hours on 180 oC. Remove the foil and brush the top with butter for the last 10 minutes of cooking to crisp the top, or place under a hot grill.
As I have done this so many times, it's another thing I never measure but do by eye, but you could work on ¾ - 1 baking size potato per person.
Adding onions -
If you're adding onions add caramelised onions - if they’re not cooked first they end up tasting raw, and slimy. I leave the onions with a little olive oil in a big pan on the lowest heat for a hour to an hour and a half (depending on how many you have it may take less time - see onion tip here) stirring every 5 minutes or so so they don't stick. If they are drying out/ sticking before they are cooked add a little water.
Vegetarian boulangère -
Make it the same way but use a vegetarian sauce/ gravy such as this one. Instead of yeast in that recipe you could use vegemite.
Top boulangère tips:
- Don't add too much stock to the potato so it’s watery - less is more. This gives you a potato you can cut out.
- To cut out - let the potato cool and refrigerate (so this could be made the day before your dinner party), then cut out with a pastry cutter. To re-heat place the cut outs on a plate, clingfilm and microwave for 2 ½ - 3 minutes.
- You can use left over gravy let down with a bit of water - if you have some left over from a Sunday roast put it in the freezer, then defrost it next time you're making boulangere. Alternatively you can find good quality ready prepared stocks/ sauces in your local butchers shop.