Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

This is comfort food at its best

food-potato-hammy-bake
Two degrees it was last week, when I was driving to work – TWO DEGREES – I was forced to crank the heating up full blast in the wee Yaris and even then my feet felt leaden and cold. The aul Converse will have to be packed away until next summer, it seems.

Soon enough I’ll be all a-frosty in the mornings too and that’ll mean starting the car and letting it tick over for five minutes before I venture out. If I was a millionaire, I’d be writing this from the south of France, folks. But until then it’ll be more hot stews, steaming bakes and warming soups in front of the fire.

Are you on Facebook? Me too, though it tends to peeve and perturb as much as impart pleasure, as far as I can tell. It gives you a real insight into people’s psyches and not always in a good way.

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However a tip I received from my sister has made all the difference for my Facebook enjoyment in recent weeks. The trick is: ‘Like’ all the food pages going, Tasty, Good Food, the Food Bible etc and that way your FB feed becomes mouth-watering of a morning rather than distasteful. Give it a try, honestly, you won’t be disappointed.

This recipe is straight off Bien Tasty and was recommended by another friend as something I might enjoy.
She wasn’t wrong. Potato, cheese and ham bake is a dish not a million miles away from tartiflette, which you may remember graced these columns a while back but this one looked so delectable, I had to give it a try.

Like tartiflette, it’s the kind of thing you might imagine restaurants serving for people coming off a snowy piste somewhere in the Alps. But as I’ve never been skiing, I can’t say how effective it is. I do know however that if you have to go anywhere in a cold Yaris, a spoonful or two of this bake is more than enough to ward off the chilly elements.

I’ve changed things only a little, in so far as I’ve added parmesan, smoked salt and chives. And for maximum affect, you’ll want freshly cut ham from your local shop.

Nor should you consider cooking or eating this if you are on/considering a diet.
Prepare to salivate…

Ingredients
3/4 big spuds, peeled and sliced pound coin thin
smoked salt
1 tsp of pepper
8 slices of good ham
400g of mozzarella, grated
150g of grated parmesan
5 slices of bacon, grilled until crisp and then chopped
tsp of chopped chives
250ml of double cream
2 eggs

THE PLAN
Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and whilst that’s happening, lightly butter a baking pan or casserole dish.
Grate the mozzarella and parmesan and combine.

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Start with a layer of the spuds in the bottom of the dish, then season with the salt and pepper. Follow this with half the ham, and then a layer of the cheese.

Add another layer of spuds (season again), the rest of the ham and more cheese. Sprinkle the bacon on top of this and then top with yet more cheese.

Add the last layer of spuds (season again) and the rest of the cheese and press down slightly to firm it up a little.

Crack the two eggs into the cream and whisk.

Pour this all over the top of the pie and then retire the whole shebang to the oven, where it can remain for about 40 minutes until it’s richly browned and the spuds are cooked through.

Let it cool for five minutes while you chop your chives and then divide it up into nine pieces and remove to plates.

Sprinkle with the chives and another dusting of parmesan and it’s ready to devour. And devour it, you will.
Oh, yes.

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