Hello, hello, hello! How are you all today? I have had a day where I felt positively useless, and unproductive, despite all my efforts to the contrary, so there was nothing for it but to crack out some potatoes and make something comforting, to soothe my addled brain, and start again.
Earlier this week I re-enacted a near annual tradition. I met a bald man from Essex in a random part of town to make an illicit exchange. Something that I have that I am willing to part with, for something fragrant. He had in his hand a heavy grey plastic bag with green muddy tentacles peeking out. His name is Danny (Food Urchin), and he has brought me some wild garlic. Hurrah!
The tradition is thus. Danny has a garden full of wild garlic, and when I am in town in the season, I meet him and get a plant. In exchange he gets something random. In fact, that is how I first met Danny. I wandered to Borough Market to meet a strange man with a wild garlic plant, and it was him. Not so strange at all, and now a friend, if a wild garlic yielding one. This year, I gave him some of my Japanese SPF130 (yes!), for he is ginger, and is as a-feared of the sun as I am with my pale Irish skin.
Wild garlic is glorious. Ample and clumsy and generous, it has a fragrant sourness, and is pungent with garlic aroma. It loves cream and all things dairy, which really suits my mood today. While I sat freaking out about my to do list, it was peering out at me from its grey sarcophagus, tentacles waving (ok, maybe not) on my kitchen floor. I must plant it (with the hope of having lots more in my garden next year, it likes to take over), but before then, I want to use some.
Today, I needed something decadent but also perky, so as I stare at my wild garlic plant, hoping that it will reveal the secrets of the universe I think – got it! – wild garlic and chorizo potato gratin. Done.
This is so easy. Gather as much wild garlic as you can, but if you can’t get any, use a couple of garlic cloves. I would slice the garlic into very fine slices (if you like it pungent like I do), before very lightly frying them until approaching golden but not brown and accrid. Then add to your cream.
Enjoy. And happy weekend!
There are still some spaces available for my Sunday Bacon Club at the Underground Cookery School on Sunday – details and how to book here. I haven’t scheduled anymore in London for the foreseeable. So, if you are keen, best book it now as I don’t know when the next one will be.
Recipe: Wild Garlic & Chorizo Potato Gratin
400g potatoes, sliced very finely (I left the skins on mine) – a mandolin slicer is perfect if you have one
250ml single cream
a handful of wild garlic leaves, shredded
100g chorizo, finely diced
2 x bay leaves (optional and it adds extra time, but I love the subtle flavour)
grated cheddar cheese to finish
butter or oil to grease the dish
sea salt to season
a roasting dish that will accommodate it – the larger the better as you get more lovely crisp cheesy topping :)
Preheat your oven to 170 deg C.
Sauté the chorizo in a dry frying pan (it has plenty of fat inside it) for a few minutes until it is starting to crisp. Remove from the heat and leave to the side.
Heat the cream (bring it to just before the boil, but don’t boil it) with the wild garlic and bay leaves in it (if using the bay leaves). Leave to sit for half an hour to let the flavours infuse. Remove and discard the bay leaves and season with a little sea salt before adding the potatoes and chorizo and thoroughly mixing.
Grease your roasting dish and add the potato and cream mixture. ensuring that the wild garlic and chorizo are evenly spread. Press down to ensure that the potatoes are tight, and finish with grated cheddar.
Roast for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender (a sharp knife should pass through them with no resistance) and the top is golden.
Eat! Lovely with salad, or roast chicken or whatever you like.