Boulangère Potatoes

I adore Gratin Dauphinoise for the luxurious, comforting satisfaction it brings to the table, but sometimes, just sometimes, the calorific creaminess of this French potato dish is too much.

Step forward Boulangère.

Named after the baker’s oven in which it would have traditionally been cooked, this is an absolute classic which transports me to France at the first taste.

Ingredients:

(30cm x 20cm x 5cm ovenproof dish)

  • 1.5kg potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme leaves
  • 400ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 25g butter
  • 25g parmesan

Method:

The size of your ovenproof dish is quite important, much like when making a lasagna.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  2. Slice your potatoes as thinly as possible using a mandolin or food processor.
  3. Finely slice the onions.
  4. Place a layer of potato slices in the dish, top with a layer of onions and season.
  5. Repeat the layers in order, placing a bay leaf in the middle layer.
  6. Finish with a nice even layer of potatoes and pour over the stock.
  7. Season, sprinkle with thyme leaves and place a bay leaf on top.
  8. Dust with parmesan cheese.
  9. Dot with butter.
  10. Bake for around 1 hour until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is beautifully golden.

 

boulangere potatoes

 

baked boulangere potatoes

Roast Guinea Fowl

Here’s my twist on Jamie’s classic roast chicken recipe – if you can cook that, you can cook this!

It’s easy to master and I think you’ll find it really satisfying. Mixing it up a little extends your repertoire and I hope that it gives you the inspiration and confidence to keep experimenting with lovely ingredients and different techniques.

Originating in the jungles of Guinea in West Africa, this unusual little bird isn’t as gamy as pheasant (it’s not really a game bird), but it’s certainly has a deeper and richer flavour than chicken.

Guinea fowl is very lean and carries little fat, so it’s not as forgiving as chicken; it’s inclined to dry out easily if overcooked. The trick is to bard it before roasting (wrap with bacon) and/or baste it throughout cooking to keep it moist and juicy.

I chose to serve this roast with lemon thyme celeriac, cavelo nero (Italian black cabbage), roasted parsnips, dauphinoise potatoes, broccoli, gravy and redcurrant jelly, but of course you can choose whichever sides float your boat. It’s all about balance and variety for me.  You could simply roast the bird with carrots, potatoes and garlic cloves as per Jamie’s roast chicken recipe.

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan). This is relatively low, as guinea fowl is more delicate than chicken.

Top the bird with some thin slabs of butter and then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay strips of bacon or pancetta over the top and then roast for around 60 minutes (15 minutes per 500g plus 15 minutes), until the juices run clear. The bird will then need a good 10 minutes to rest properly so once you’ve taken it out of the oven you can increase the temperature to finish your dauphinoise and parsnips whilst you make the gravy.

Dauphinoise potatoes are always a winner. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t adore them. Finely slice potatoes (a mandolin or food processor is ideal) and layer them into a buttered ovenproof dish, seasoning as you go. I often add a little minced garlic and thyme leaves along the way. Pour over a generous splash of double cream so that it can seep through the layers of potato, and then top with grated cheese and bake for about an hour.

Potatoes dauphinoise

The parsnips can simply be quartered, turned in olive oil and roasted in the oven alongside the guinea fowl and dauphinoise.

Jamie’s celeriac recipe works brilliantly with guinea fowl. Peel and cube a celeriac and then cook it in a covered pan for about 25 minutes over a low heat with a swig of olive oil, lemon thyme, salt and pepper.

jamie oliver simple celeriac

Steam your greens for just a few minutes and dress them with a squeeze of lemon juice, flaky sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Keep the water from your steamer for the gravy.

To make a gravy whilst the guinea fowl rests, combine the roasting juices, some vegetable cooking water and a little redcurrant or quince jelly in a pan.

 

Sit down, fill your plates, fight over the crispy bacon and enjoy the rustic flavours with a warming glass of red wine.

Roast Guinea fowl

The Treats That Pass Us By

A highlight of studying real food and cooking from scratch is discovering all those little hints and tips, treats and surprises.  It’s wonderfully satisfying when you come across something that’s terribly simple yet joyfully delicious.  There’s so many of them out there and it’s got to be the easiest way to get people engaged and inspired to start cooking real food for themselves.  It’s exciting to think that I might stumble across something new tomorrow – note that when I say new, I mean re-discovering recipes, skills and techniques that we’ve lost over the years.

Now that it’s Autumn here in the UK, wonderful varieties of squash are starting to appear in the shops and on farmer’s market stands.  The seasonal glut results in very reasonable price tags and I’m always tempted by the myriad of autumnal colours and odd shapes.  Soon it’s going to be Halloween, that time of year when we waste copious amounts of perfectly good food…

Harlequin Squash

So here it is: when you cut your squash or pumpkin and scrape out the seeds, don’t throw them away!  I pop them in a sieve and separate them from the pith.

Harlequin Squash Seeds

Cleaned Harlequin Squash Seeds

After drying them off I have a couple of options; store and sow them to grow more plants, or prep and eat them.  More often than not I roast them in the oven with a tiny amount of oil and salt (150°C for about 20 minutes works but you might want to keep an eye on them and give them a shake).

Once cooled, they make a devilishly moreish and deliciously crunchy little snack!  They’ll happily take a little flavouring like paprika or cayenne pepper and they’re perfect served with drinks before dinner.

Roasted/Toasted Harlequin Squash Seeds