The oven is your friend I wrote yesterday, even when the washing machine is not. This time last year my roof terrace was being ripped up and replaced to stop it leaking into my neighbours’ kitchen (it started the day, yep the very day, that they brought their first baby home from hospital). Now my washing machine has decided to take a turn, marking (thankfully rather lightly) their living room ceiling; why now I ask myself, why four days before Christmas? Oh how I long to live in a house, where I can only flood myself and nobody else.
Until then I will always need dishes like this: ones that are ridiculously simple yet thoroughly soothing. My friend Kate used to make this when we were at university and, although horribly fattening and probably terribly bad for you, it is addictively yummy. I always start off thinking I’ll just have a little and end up eating far too much. It’s really a variation on pommes anna or dauphinoise, with some leek and bacon thrown in and the joy is that it makes hardly any washing up, needs very few ingredients and not fancy ones at that and can be scaled up or down without much faffing. It takes minutes to make, about an hour to cook (depending on how much you make) and will wash away all thoughts of how you have to call out a plumber in the most expensive week of the year. Well, almost.
For two good portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
butter, about 50g
sea salt and black pepper
potatoes, 2-3 large ones (about 550g)
leek, 1 large or 2 medium
streaky bacon, about 4 thick-cut rashers
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4.
2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes.
3. Top and tail the leek, slice it in half lengthways, rinse the halves to remove any grit, then slice the halves into thin rings.
4. Cut the bacon into small pieces (kitchen scissors are ideal for this).
5. Slice or chop the butter into small pieces too.
5. Layer the potatoes, bacon and leeks in an ovenproof baking dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
6. Cover with the butter, evenly distributed over the top and season.
7. Bake for about 40 minutes to an hour (it will depend on the thickness of the potatoes, the depth of your dish and how much you have made) until the top is crispy but the potatoes underneath are soft.