Sunday Stew and Potato Gratin

Too keen – third post in a day must mean it’s a Sunday! The boyfriend doesn’t quite know what’s come over me this weekend with the arrival of all this new food, but has told me he is “fully supportive” of the cooking spree!

As the Scottish weather has not been kind this weekend my thoughts are turning to hearty suppers. Tonight’s dinner consisted of potato gratin and a homemade pie / stew.

The gratin is a lovely recipe from the December edition of the “Good Food” magazine. I used to subscribe to this but found recipes built up faster than I could make them, and so had stopped buying them to work through the ones I had never managed to get round to. However, I bought this one as it is filled with good Christmas canapes and gingerbread houses which I am looking forward to making in the coming weeks (I can’t wait!).

The recipe in the magazine serves 8 and so adjusted for 2 people you will need:

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced (I used a whole but small one)
  • 1 thyme sprig, leaves picked, plus extra to serve
  • 40ml double cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 300 g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 25 g creme fraiche
  • 3/4 oz parmesan, grated

Basically you need to just combine everything apart from the creme fraiche and parmesan and layer the potato slices in a greased ovenproof dish with the onions as a layer in the middle (having first caramelised them with the thyme in a separate pan). This is then baked for about 90 mins at approx 180 degrees.

The creme fraiche is then spread on top and covered in the cheese before returning to a hotter oven for another 20-30 minutes (The recipe says 30 but I took mine out after about 23 as they would have burnt with the full half hour).

The verdict: Depending on the dish you use, I think the recipe uses too much parmesan. I used about half an ounce and would not have wanted any more. The onion layer in the middle was sweet and delicious, making this different from the gratins I have tried before.

The prep time of 20 minutes could be a little ambitious depending on how you cut your potatoes. I love my double-edged ceramic blade mandolin which make short work of the slicing, but it still took me every bit of the 20 minutes by the time I had layered everything into the dish. You can do everything up to the creme fraiche step up to two days before you eat them apparently, which  could cut out some time!

All this talk of potatoes and I haven’t even mentioned the main part of the meal! I have made this up from what was in my fridge, and so there are no exact quantities, but this is the joy of the comforting “Sunday stew” – it will never come out quite the same way twice!

  • Casserole beef
  • Red wine (about a glass)
  • Tomato puree (around 1-2 tbsp at a guess!)
  • Beef stock
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • ready-made puff pastry

Again, the cooking of the Sunday stew is an imprecise science – the only things you need to remember are firstly to seal the meat in a hot pan before adding anything else in order to stop it drying out, and secondly to cook this for a long time. I would say a minimum of 90 mins and ideally 2-3 hours so that the beef falls apart.

The addition of a pastry topping for the last half hour of cooking makes this a pie rather than a stew, but just experiment and find out what you like best! Ingredients I have also used instead of some of those above are beer, bay leaves, mustard, paprika ……the list goes on (not all together of course!!).

I hope you are enjoying the blog so far! Please post any questions, or comments if you have tried one of these recipes to let me know what you think!

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