As we approach the end of November we’re all looking for something warm and comforting to keep the cold at bay. With this in mind I’ve gone for a twist on a classic gratin recipe – simple but effective this is delicious as a lunchtime treat or prepared to accompany a main meal. As Thanksgiving is just around the corner I have gone with an American theme, using Russet Burbank potatoes and a generous pancetta garnish.
Thanksgiving was traditionally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the year’s harvest. This has now evolved to also encompass a moment of personal gratitude for the things we have in our lives that we may sometimes take for granted. This is definitely something that can be embraced in this country as well. Considering the current climate it feels even more pertinent that we take stock and express our thanks for what we do have – whether that’s our health, our loved ones we are locked down with, or the friends and family we may not have seen in a while due to travel restrictions or health conditions. It can be so easy to be overcome with all of the negativity that is in the world at the minute, and to focus on all of the things that we cannot do, that the things that are right in front of us can go unappreciated. I encourage you to take the spirit of Thanksgiving this month and pay it forward in whatever way feels right for you: whether this comes in the form of a nice meal shared with your household or support bubble; a phone call, a zoom call or any other sort of call you may make; or a hand written letter or small token of your appreciation sent through the post. Give thanks and share with the people in your lives because together we can bring some warmth and light to these cold November days. And if, perhaps, you’d like to share this recipe with them I really wouldn’t object…
Crispy Topped Hasselback Potato Gratin
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1.5kg Russet Burbank potatoes
150g cubed pancetta (can be substituted for cubed pumpkin for a vegetarian alternative)
½ pint vegetable stock
50g butter (can be substituted for 3tbsp of cold pressed rapeseed oil for a vegan alternative)
1 tbsp Morghew cold pressed rapeseed oil
Small handful of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/Gas Mark 6).
- Heat 1tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and slice shallots finely.
- Add the pancetta (or pumpkin), shallots and thyme to the pan and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn golden.
- Add the stock and stir through before bringing to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Using a sharp knife or mandolin slice the potatoes thinly widthways.
- Arrange the potato slices in an oven-proof dish by standing them upright on their ends. How you arrange the slices is open to interpretation and you can be as creative as you wish. I arranged them in a chess board pattern as I find this creates individual servings, however you could create lines, concentric circles or any other pattern that pleases the eye.
- Once the potato slices are nestled into the dish pour over the pancetta and stock mixture, covering all of the potatoes and allowing time for the liquid to seep down between the slices. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Cover the dish with either a lid or some foil and place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes. Begin to melt the butter (or warm the substitute oil) and, when ready, remove the dish from the oven. Uncover and drizzle the butter over the potatoes before returning to the oven, uncovered, for a further 45 minutes.
- Serve whilst still hot! This works well as a midday meal in its own right or enjoy as a side to your main meal.