Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday night supper: roast lamb, potato gratin & green lentils

On Sunday afternoon I drove up from London to my father’s house in Northamptonshire so that I could then drive him to Heathrow to catch a flight to Nepal. (He’s off for two weeks on a whistle stop tour around Nepal, Kolkata and Mumbai to visit schools funded by Mondo Challenge, a charity of which he is about to become chairman).

As we pulled up at Terminal Four my sister rang from Oxford where she was staying with her best friend, sounding tired & definitely not looking forward to the bus journey back to London. I had a rare brainwave and on the way home diverted via Beck’s to abduct lil’sis & Posetta Baddog to take them back to my mother’s for a few days R&R. Lil’sis isn’t too well at the moment & PB is starting to look like a barrel from the lack of walks.

We are a family that likes to eat and last night we cooked supper together. A leg of lamb from the butcher’s van, lentils and a potato gratin. It couldn’t have been simpler.

The gratin is a great dish for impressing people, yet costs around 60p/$1 for enough to feed at least four people. A small 1lb bag of Charlotte potatoes, still in their skins,& half a red onion were sliced on a mandolin in a matter of minutes and then strewn in a buttered ovenproof dish. I poured over enough stock to cover the vegetables and popped them in the oven for 40 minutes.

They came out soft & unctuous, with a sauce thickened by the starch from the potatoes. It's important to use a waxy, salad potato in this dish as, in such thin slices, a floury potato would dissolve into the stock.

potato gratin (3)

If you are making stock from concentrate, use a little less than normal for, as the stock reduces in the oven, it will become a lot saltier. For that reason, do not add any extra salt to the potatoes.

potato gratin

The lentils were even easier. To one small red onion sweated in a little olive oil, I added two cups of small green lentils and two bay leaves, which were then covered in vegetable stock and cooked for about 30 minutes.

So healthy and delicious.