Poppycooks' Bacon-y Garlic-y Potato-y
Given TikTok megastar Poppy O'Toole (aka @poppycooks) passion for potatoes I really had to pick a potato recipe from her fab new cookbook Poppy Cooks so here is the recipe she calls Bacon-y Garlic-y Potato-y - which really does what it says on the tin.
Bacon-y Garlic-y Potato-y
Okay. This is my official statement on achieving the perfect potato dish: bacon, garlic and potato are the ménage à trois that is out here changing lives. It’s the modern-day throuple that’s right every time. Unless you’re veggie, that is – in which case, this dish is still a stand-out with just the garlic.
1 recipe quantity of Cheese Sauce (see below)
For the gratin
4 large potatoes, peeled, and sliced into 5mm-thick (2 inch) rounds
1 tsp salt, plus extra to season
200g/7oz smoked bacon lardons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
100g/3.oz cheddar, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
2. Tip the spuds into a large saucepan and just cover with water. Add the salt and place over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then cook for about 7 minutes, until tender.
3. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then suspend the colander in the potato pan and cover with a clean tea towel for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes have steamed off and dried out a bit.
4. While the spuds are boiling, add the lardons to a cold frying pan and place over a medium heat. Fry for about 6 minutes, until cooked through and golden. Remove the lardons from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
5. Tip one third of the spuds into a medium ovenproof dish, spreading them out in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over one third each of the garlic, rosemary, lardons and cheese. Top with a good ladleful of cheese sauce (if it’s been chilling in the fridge, you may need to spread it out a bit) and repeat twice more (potato, garlic etc, cheese, sauce), until the dish is full and you’ve finished with a final sprinkling of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and a bit crispy on top. Dig in!
It ends here. No more packet cheese sauces. It is literally so easy to make your own (it’s just the béchamel with cheese in it) and I promise you’ll be able to tell the difference. Forget the powdery texture and the 10,000 unknown ingredients that you just ignore on the packet. You know everything going into this baby, and it’s all good stuff. Good stuff = good sauce.
Serves 4-6 (depending on how you use it)
500ml/2 cups whole milk
70g/2.oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
200g/7oz your choice of cheese, grated (I’d go for cheddar and double Gloucester, but a traditional mornay sauce usually just has gruyère in there)
1. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and place it over a medium heat for 7 minutes, until warmed through. Set aside.
2. Place a second, smallish saucepan over a low–medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, gradually beat in the flour, about a tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick paste. You don’t want the paste to start browning – if you’re worried just take the pan off the heat to slow things down a little as you add.
3. Once all the flour is in, cook, stirring, until you have a dough-like consistency and the paste is coming away from the sides of the pan.
4. Little by little, add the warmed milk, making sure you allow the first addition to fully incorporate into the paste before adding more. Keep mixing to avoid lumps – switch to a whisk if you need to.
5. Once all the milk is in and you have a smooth, thick sauce, season with the salt and nutmeg.
6. Now, simply add your cheese and stir to melt in and combine for the perfect cheesy sauce! If you’re not using the sauce straight away, transfer it to an airtight container (leave it to cool before you put the lid on). You can store it for 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.
What to drink: I'm not sure how much of a wine dish this is but a Chablis or lightly oaked chardonnay would work pretty well. Or a Belgian-style blonde ale like Leffe.
From Poppy Cooks by Poppy O'Toole published by Bloomsbury at £20.
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