Sue Lawrence's Potato & Juniper Gratin
side main veg
Ingredients
500g large potatoes, peeled or celeriac
500g parsnips, peeled
300ml double cream
100ml milk
20-24 juniper berries
couple pieces of mace
1 tsp salt and some freshly ground black pepper
Butter for buttering baking dish
Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

Slice the vegetables very thinly indeed (Sue uses the slicing blade of her food processor. I used the wide slots on a cheese grater.), then place them in a heavy pan with the cream, milk and salt. To almost cover

Crush the juniper berries (with a pestle and mortar, or the back of a knife) and sprinkle them in. Season with salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently for 2 minutes, stirring carefully to prevent sticking - but not vigorously enough to break up the vegetables.

Tip into a buttered, shallow gratin dish, dot with butter, and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender and the top tinged golden brown.

Serve very warm with venison or game sausages.

You can cook this a few hours in advance, then cover it with foil and re-heat in a medium oven (180°C/350°F/Gas 4) for about 30 minutes or until piping hot.

Delicious!

I've also made this using celeriac and parsnip, and using potato and celeriac, and I added some mace to the juniper berries (whipping them up in a spice grinder). It was really delightful.
Mind you I probably used more double cream!

The juniper berries do add a certain grainy texture to the gratin, so I find it better to simmer up the milk/cream mixture with the juniper and mace first, leave it to infuse, then strain out the spices before cooking the roots.
It takes a little longer, but it's worth the effort.

Oh, and don't overdo the salt.

By me. I think.
Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin
side main veg vegan
Ingredients
Jerusalem Artichokes, par-boiled, sliced
New potatoes, par-boiled, sliced
Chestnuts, boiled, peeled, sliced
Celery sticks, sliced
Olive oil
Lemon
salt & pepper
Method
Put the unpeeled artichokes, unpeeled potatoes in a pot barely covered with hot water, simmer. Cut crosses in the flat side of the chestnuts, add them to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes until just beginning to soften. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with olive oil, slice the potatoes, the artichokes, the celery. Thinly slice the chestnuts, pare the lemon peel. Starting and finishing with potato, fill the casserole with layers of potato, celery, chestnut, lemon peel, salt, freshly ground pepper, drizzle of olive oil, artichoke. Squeeze the lemon and pour over the juice.
Cover and bake in a 200°C oven for 1 hour

Pretty tasty. I think the celery would work better in larger slices like the artichokes. Wonder if fennel instead of celery, or adding some olives might work too? Make sure to slice the artichoke very thinly, but the potato reasonably thickly. The potato softens much more quickly.
Might benefit from being pressed.

Novelty Gratin
side main veg
I'd been wondering what ingredients might work in a gratin, so I basically threw everything I had in the pantry into a gratin dish to see what would stick.
It seems to be quite hard to go terrribly wrong, though getting it particularly right is a different matter. I had high hopes for the avocado, but it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped.

Ingredients
Method
Chop the chilli finely.
Chop the parsley.
Slice everything else about the thickness of a pound coin (perhaps a bit thinner for the onion).
Put everything in a large pan together with the milk and cream, and bring to the boil. Season. Sprinkle in the parsley.
Decant into a casserole dish.
Put uncovered into an oven preheated to Gas Mark 5-6 for about an hour.
The verdict:
  • The mushrooms turn a bit leathery.
  • The avocado is a bit thick and heavy. I'd like to think there's a future there, but I'm not sure what. Maybe using sour cream or something acidic or fruity to cut through the density.
  • The chilli is alright, but you probably don't really want a chilli gratin.
  • The onion is OK, but is a bit too Lyonnaise for a gratin.
  • The parsley doesn't add much either.
  • The root vegetables were as ever. Nice, but not much improved by the above!