Each time that I make this simple dish there is, at the back of my mind, a nagging feeling that I have left out an ingredient. The recipe is not extensive in its demands which makes it even more surprising that I do indeed leave out the same one on each occasion that I make it, which is often. Yesterday’s constituents are shown in the picture above, but missing from their company is the nagging element; a leek. I have never, to my knowledge, included the leek which the recipe specifies, yet have always added garlic which the recipe does not. The miracle of this recipe is that, with so few ingredients, it produces a dish of such deep flavours from meltingly soft layers of paper thin potatoes oozing with stock, herbs and wine topped with a hardly appreciable yet crunchy, cheese laden crust: which words make me realise that I have also left the cheese out of the still life, but never out of the preparation. The white wine and fresh thyme make a remarkable difference to the finished dish and should not be omitted.
We often eat this dish for supper with nothing but a green salad or, as was the case yesterday evening, with some roasted vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts ( it surprises me that spell check should demand a capital letter for such a humble vegetable as the sprout, and even more that I should acquiesce to its demand considering my opinion of brussels). At lunchtime today I was tempted by the remains of the pommes boulangere which were not at all shabby when paired with a glass of a good red..
Here’s the recipe which comes from Patricia Wells’ “Bistro Cooking” which is resident in my kitchen as it never gets back to the book shelves. I should mention that, at variance with the recipe below, I choose to grate Parmesan over the gratin before I put it in the oven, which accounts for the cheese crust that I mentioned earlier.