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Potatoes in milk

This dish from Elizabeth David’s Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (London 1974)is a lighter, firmly-textured cousin to both mashed potatoes and potatoes au gratin. It is both quick and easy, and sufficiently unusual to impress your friends. No number of servings is specified; you need only peel and slice as many potatoes as you need.

Milk Can-large potatoes, peeled and sliced about ½ inch thick
-whole milk just to cover the potatoes
-scant amount of salt
-unsalted butter
-dried thyme

  1. Bring the potatoes, milk and salt to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are barely tender: You do not want them to fall apart; you do want coherent slices.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Lightly grease a shallow oven dish big enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer with butter and arrange the potato slices in it.
  4. Add a scant 4 Tablespoons of the cooking milk to the dish for each pound of potatoes and sprinkle the slices with dried thyme, the barest hint of mace and a little good salt.
  5. Roast the potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes show patches of light crust along their edges.

Notes: David offers good advice in arresting prose about cooking these potatoes at step 1: “simmer (if you let them gallop, the milk will boil over and the potatoes will stick, so look out).” (Spices, Salt 131)

- She also notes that the unused cooking milk ought to be saved; it makes a stock for soup.

- Along with many of David’s recipes, however, this one suffers from inattention to detail; she neither greases the oven dish (starchy potatoes want to stick) nor seasons the potatoes before roasting them. She also specifies nutmeg rather than mace, which tastes fine as well--but is not so authentically English.