Nigel Slater’s potatoes with smoked garlic and comté – The Guardian

Restaurant News

If you slice waxy-fleshed potatoes so thin you can almost see through them, then bake them slowly in duck fat or cream, the result is both humble and luxurious. The potatoes should almost melt into the fat, and that relies very much on your dexterity with the knife. A mandolin slicer is the piece of kit I really need for this, but I don’t like them, even those with a safety guard to keep blade and fingers well apart. Instead, I battle on with a freshly sharpened kitchen knife.

The earthy sweetness of a potato is accentuated by salty flavours, so I layer my “almost” transparent slices with grated comté cheese, effectively making a side dish into a main course. (We eat it with a wintry salad of shredded white cabbage and chicory, tossed with a vinegar-sharp dressing.)

Should you not be able to get hold of comté, a semi-firm cheese such as fontina or emmental will work just as well.

Serves 6
smoked garlic 7 cloves
double cream 500ml
bay leaf 1
cloves 2
full-fat milk 200ml
comté 150g
potatoes 4 medium, waxy fleshed (yellow)
butter 30g

Peel the smoked garlic and cut it into paper-thin slices then put it into a medium-sized saucepan with the cream, bay leaf, cloves and milk. Bring the cream and milk mixture to the boil, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside to infuse. Set the oven at 160C/gas mark 2-3.

Coarsely grate the cheese. Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can, using a mandoline cutter if you have one.

Butter a large, shallow baking dish or roasting tin. Place a single layer of potato slices over the base then add a handful of the grated comté cheese, scattered evenly over the surface. Add salt and black pepper and a little of the sliced garlic from the infusion, too.

Continue with more potatoes and the remaining cheese until you have used them all up, seasoning each layer as you go.

Pour the infused cream over the surface, then bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours, until the top is appetisingly brown and the potatoes are meltingly tender.

Nigel Slater is the Observer’s cookery writer

Source: Thanks