Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Grease an All-Clad D3 Stainless 50th Anniversary Skillet with butter. Peel the potatoes, then carefully slice them on a mandoline to about ⅛ inch thick (if you don’t own a mandoline, do your best with a sharp chef’s knife). Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the cream mixture; discard the garlic and bay leaf.
You’re going to make four layers of potatoes in the skillet. For the first layer, shingle about a quarter of the potato slices (9 to 10 ounces) across the bottom; there should be no visible spaces. Season this layer with a robust amount of freshly ground black pepper (about 10 to 15 cracks from a peppermill), ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a small pinch of thyme (using about ¼ of your total amount of thyme). Evenly pour ¾ cup of cream on top.
Repeat the above step three more times, until you’ve used up all the ingredients.
Place the skillet on the middle rack and cook for 55 minutes, or until the top layer of potatoes just begins to turn golden brown.
At that point, remove the skillet from the oven and set the oven to broil. Sprinkle the Gruyère on top and return the skillet to the middle rack in the oven.
Cook until the top of the potatoes are deeply golden brown, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close watch, because the cheese can quickly burn under the broiler.
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