Pommes Boulangere

Lamb boulangere, when a joint of lamb is cooked over a herby gratin of potatoes, is a favourite in my family. This is the potato part, useful when you want pommes Dauphinoise but don’t have any cream. Thinly sliced potatoes are sandwiched with two layers of onion, thyme, bay and garlic, all chopped up fine. The potatoes are virtually a meal in themselves and go with everything from fried eggs to steak or roast chicken. Their cooking smells will drive you crazy.

Serves 4

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 60 min

approx 1kg large potatoes

1 onion

2 sprigs thyme

1 large bay leaf

3 garlic cloves

40g (or more) soft butter

     Use a mandolin or the side of a box cheese grater to thinly slice the potatoes, as thin as if making thick crisps – no thicker than a 50p coin. Rinse and leave to soak in cold water while you halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Strip the thyme from its stalks and chop. Finely chop the bay leaf – I usually cut out the central vein. Crack the garlic, flake away the skin and finely chop. Mix everything together. Lavishly butter a gratin dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with one third of the drained potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and scatter half the onion mixture over the top. Make another layer of potatoes and onion as before and finish with a layer of potatoes, Smooth the top and press down evenly with the flat of your hand. Dot with butter and season with salt. Add sufficient hot water to almost cover the potatoes. Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and cook for 40 minutes at 220C/gas mark 7. Remove the paper and cook for a further 15 minutes or so until the top layer is very crusty and the gratin is succulent rather than wet. Keep an eye on the temperature as the gratin cooks, depending on your oven you may need to turn it up or down to achieve the desired effect.