Thanksgiving dinner is usually served with mounds of hot, buttery mash potato. However, if you feel like a change this holiday, consider serving a rich, indulgent potato gratin instead. It's also great with turkey or chicken if you infuse the cream with a few fresh sage leaves, by heating the cream gently through before using in the recipe. Fresh thyme is also good, and can be simply scattered through the layers. Use a light hand, as a little goes a long way. For the perfect turkey accompaniement, see my InfoBarrel recipe.

Perfect potato gratin is all about the type of potatoes used. You need good, white, waxy potatoes such as Desiree, Charlotte, Bjinte or Wilja varieties. This dish can also be made with sweet potato; simply reduce the cooking time by 1 hour. (I'd certainly season a sweet potato version with sage - it's a match made in heaven).

Potato gratin is great for those occasions where you are pushed for time – it can be made in advance, part cooked and refrigerated. Simply bake for 1hr, allow to cool and refrigerate. To finish cooking, simply pop in the oven for the final hour to heat through.

Ingredients for Perfect Potato Gratin:

  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 100g butter , softened
  • 500g waxy potatoes, thinly sliced
  • A pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 300ml full or half fat milk
  • 300ml double (heavy) cream
  • Grated gruyère or parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

1: Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC (fan ovens) or gas mark 4. Grease a large square or rectangle ovenproof dish with butter. Rub the cut garlic clove over this and discard. If you are using sage leaves, scatter 3-4 on the bottom. For thyme, scatter a light handful.

2: Add a layer of the thinly sliced potato to the bottom of the dish. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add another layer, and repeat the seasoning. Brish with a little melted butter. Be sure to press down firmly, as the layers of potato should be densely packed. Dab every 2-3 layers with a little butter, and a sprinkle of sage or thyme, if using.

3: Mix together the milk and the cream, and pour over the potatoes, making sure they are all covered. Give the dish a shake, to remove any trapped air and scatter with the cheese.

4: Bake for 2 hours. Because the potatoes are not pre-cooked, the cooking time is longer than some recipes. Serve when the potatoes are soft and the liquid is gently bubbling.