You’ll have heard of this recipe before, you may even have eaten it, and made it.
For me, it’s one of those go-to recipes when I’ve bought cream for something and then either forgotten what it was I bought it for, or just have loads left over. Or changed my mind. After all, what would be nicer than fillet steak with creamy potatoes? And brussels sprouts? OK, you might not all agree with the addition of the brussels as a side dish, but I’ve learned to love the wee critters. My spiced pickled red cabbage on the side would have created perfection on a plate, but I forgot it when I was serving up. I forgot to turn the oven off too. So, it could have been the second time in 24 hours the house nearly burned down.
Yes, it’s been an eventful time.
We were relaxing in front of the fire (with a cheese board and some vintage port) when we noticed a car drawing up outside (we live far from anywhere, but beside a road, so notice these things on the rare occasions they happen). Then there was a knock at the gable window, beside where I was sitting. I couldn’t see who it was in the dark blackness outside. The Captain went out to investigate and asked if I was cooking anything when he went through the kitchen… but no, I wasn’t. And then we discovered that the kind stranger had stopped to inform us our wheelie bin (right beside our boiler and the side of the house) was on fire. It was seriously on fire, with flames shooting out of it and 3/4 of the bin now melted away. It was cold and dark and windy, with a drizzly rain spattering down on us. The boys pulled out the hose (not melted by the heat of the fire) and we spent the next half hour making sure the bin had no chance of bursting into flame again.
We’ll never know for sure what caused the fire, but suspect it may have been our house guest who had lit a fire earlier in the evening and burned lots and lots and lots of paper. The next morning she asked if it had been because she’d put hot ash in the bin. As I say, we’ll never know for sure.
Anyway… the next evening I attempted (yet again) to use up some more of the ingredients I’d bought in for the Christmas season, and it was time to finish that enormous pot of cream. I much prefer savoury to sweet (despite the huge number of recipes for sweet homebaked goods on this site) so decided on Janssen’s Temptation, that delicious potato gratin dish, baked in the oven till it’s all oozingly unctuous.
- A large pot of double cream
- About the same amount of milk
- A few large potatoes
- An onion (or several if you are feeding the five thousand)
- Anchovy fillets (although I’m reliably informed that this is WRONG and that it should be sprats, it’s just that we are a bit rubbish at translating Swedish and have translated ‘ansjovis’ which means sprats into anchovies… well, you would wouldn’t you?)
- Some veg stock (or a cube, crumbled)
- Some butter
I know, I know, I’ve not been too precise on the quantities here, but since I only ever make it when I’m using up what’s left int he fridge, how would I really know?
Preheat oven to 220C/400F/GM6
- Slice your onion (I always slice it in half long ways, and then put it on it’s flat side and slice it into thin crescent slices)
- Pop a dod of butter into a large heavy based frying pan and gently fry the onion over a low heat, till they are sort of soft-ish
- Butter a gratin dish. You choose the size, depending on the number you intend to feed and how many potatoes/onions you have
- If you’ve got a mandolin, slice your potatoes nice a thin. If you haven’t then you’ll take a bit longer over this bit, doing it with a sharp knife. If you don’t have a sharp knife or a mandolin then don’t even think about trying this recipe. Go and buy a decent knife and a knife sharpener and then come back and get started
- Chop up some anchovy fillets. A whole tin if you’ve got it, or if you’ve got them in a big jar in the fridge, then chop as many as you fancy – you’ll need to add a few to each layer (see below)
- Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of your gratin dish
- Add a think layer of onions
- And some anchovies and freshly ground black pepper
- Repeat this layering another one or two times, ending with a layer of potatoes
- Mix your cream with milk, roughly half and half. Add some veg stock if you have it, otherwise crumble in a veg cube
- Pour most of this over your potato layers, so it’s roughly half way up the side…
- Pop it in the oven and leave it for a good 20-30 minutes. Pour yourself a cocktail. You probably deserve it.
- Take it out of the oven and wonder ta how tasty it smells and looks. Pour the rest of the cream mixture over it. And pour yourself another cocktail.
- Leave it in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, till it is soft all the way through when you poke it with a knife. You may need to turn the oven down a bit and leave it longer if you’re enjoying the cocktails too much and haven’t put your steak on yet. Or if you were sensible you would have made a stew the day before which just needs re-heating and no further cooking would be required.
And that’s it. Tastiness on a plate. You’d have photos if I hadn’t had cocktails.
I could give you a photo of the melted wheelie bin, but really, it would put you off all your meals in 2014.
Happy New Year everyone.