There will be spud

Greetings, traveller. It’s that time of year. It seems it was only a heartbeat ago I was putting away summer cooking things last year & digging out the heavy casserole pots, and now here it is again, already! Where does the time go? I blame global warming.

Anyway. This was an improv dinner yesterday for me & my girl. It’s an adapted version of a corking gratin I make with peppered mackerel, but she isn’t too keen on the stronger fishy taste so I substituted tinned tuna. If you use mackerel you’ll get a richer, deeper coloured dish.

Tuna, leek & potato gratin

5 floury baking potatoes
2 leeks
275g canned tuna in brine
1 x 284ml pot of single cream, or as I used, Elmlea or light cream
60g fresh grated Parmesan
75g grated strong Cheddar
1tsp mustard
1tspn chopped rosemary (dried herbs would be ok – just use a pinch less of each)
1tspn thyme
Garlic – 2 large or 3 small cloves crushed
Salt & pepper
Olive oil (light is fine)

Trim & chop your leeks. A handy way to wash them is to run a sharp knife right through from the green end to the base, but don’t cut right through the base – leave about an inch. Roll the leek 90 degrees & repeat. Hold the leek by the loose green ends & the base & push together gently. The leek will now open up so you can rinse away and grit under a cold tap.
Dry well & chop then fry in a little olive oil & butter until soft. Season with salt & pepper.

In a jug, pour in your cream, then rinse the tub to halfway up with milk & add to the cream. To this, add your mustard. I used English but wholegrain is great.
Add your cheeses, garlic, herbs, 1/2 tspn salt & lots of black pepper. Stir well

Slice your potatoes widthways to about 3mm thick, or the thickness of a pound coin.

Butter the base of a large casserole type oven dish, largest you have probably,
the kind that are usually rectangular or oval and about 3″ deep.

Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of your dish. Add a layer of leeks then a layer of drained tuna chunks. Repeat until you get to a final layer of potato at the top. The lower levels of slices can be just placed roughly, but your top layer can be a little neater, I usually start at the outer edge, place a slice, cover that by half with the next slice, like scales, and work my way around the dish, then make inner circles until the top is covered. Press down lightly. Aim to leave about 5 – 10mm from the top of the dish.

Slowly pour over your cream mixture. This will disperse throughout the gratin as it cooks.

Dot with knobs of butter & give a final grind of salt & pepper.

Cover tightly with foil & bake at 190 for 1hr. Remove the foil & test with something fairly blunt like a butter knife. If not completely soft return to the oven, covered, until it is.
When it’s soft, place back in the oven uncovered for 10-15 mins to brown the top.

Allow to cool slightly then serve with vegetables. I serve my veg without butter or oil as there’s already plenty in the gratin itself.

Leftovers will microwave well the next day.

Enjoy : )

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