Boulangère Potatoes

I have a rather too close relationship with potatoes. Damn Christopher Columbus or whoever it was who bought them back from the Americas.  I particularly like them smothered in butter if they are baked in their jackets, or cooked in olive oil when roasted.  Or how about butter, cream and cheese if they are mashed? Oh dear, I can´t always have naughty potatoes and sometimes plain boiled with a drizzle of olive oil just doesn´t do it for me.

Boulangère Potatoes are a good option if you are trying to be a little sensible with the calories, or if you just want to go mad with the dessert. They´re also wonderful when you are entertaining, as apart from tasting fantastic, they can sit quite happily in a warm oven for quite a while and come to no significant harm. Boulangère is the French word for Baker.  Many families in the past did not have ovens in their own homes.  They would take a dish of these down to the village baker who would kindly pop them in to cook in his still warm oven when the bread baking was done. What nice people bakers are.

To serve four people you´ll need about 1kg of potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer but you can also do this by hand or in a food processor), 2 medium onions thinly sliced, olive oil, seasoning and about half a litre of vegetable or chicken stock.  If you have it, some fresh thyme is also good but right now I´m in a bit of a huff with Big Man as he dug all mine up a while back thinking it was a weed! Rosemary also works well with this dish.

Lightly oil the base of an oven proof dish and start making layers of potato, onion, herbs and seasoning. Finish with a layer of potatoes, season and then pour over stock to completely cover.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in a at 200ºC/Gas 6 for about 45 minutes, then take off the foil.  The potatoes and onion will be soft now and most of the liquid will have disappeared.  Continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the liquid has all gone and the potatoes have browned.  If you find it has cooked through but the potatoes are still a little pale, put under the grill for a few minutes.

Either serve immediately or leave at the bottom of a low oven until you are ready to eat.

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