Pan Haggerty for the Haggard

by Kelly on December 19, 2013   

Comfort food on a cold night

Comfort food on a cold night

It’s finally a leetle bit cold around here, and I’ve been craving something warming and easy. In the height of summer I found a version of this recipe in The Cheese Companion by Judy Ridgway that caused me to turn to my husband and mention that this would be an excellent dinner for us two imminent empty-nesters along with a simple salad and a glass of wine. This was really just a far-off vision of humble dinners in front of distant fireplaces. But on one recent post-shopping, nothing-in-the-house evening, I was feeling just haggard enough to remember this gorgeously comforting dish. (As spunky boys my husband and a friend once made up a character named Hagatha Uglemeyer — that’s how I felt.)

The dish is traditional Northumbrian, and while it adapts beautifully to any cheese, the North Country cheese, Wensleydale, is that region’s cheese of choice. Sound familiar? It’s Wallace’s obsession (and Gromit’s perpetual trial).

Wallace's constant craving, Wensleydale cheese

Wallace’s favorite, Wensleydale cheese

This dish celebrates cheese and its natural companion, the potato. For this one I’ve chosen three different cheeses, two of which I made here at home. I’m working on developing a cheese plant (that IS my far-off, and I hope not-too-distant, vision) and these are two of my trials. I’ll soon be posting about my progress at Little Sister Creamery!

My goat/cow tomme in the back, a soft taleggio in front, also mine, and a Gruyére on the right

My goat/cow tomme in the back, a soft taleggio in front, also mine, and a Gruyére on the right

Pan Haggerty | 4 servings

This recipe is really an open book — make it entirely veg, or use leftover chicken, fry a few strips of bacon and crumble them in instead of the sausage, try chopped ham or prosciutto, whatever is on hand. You can also use a little garlic if you like, or herbs, but I’ve kept mine very, very simple.

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium-sized potatoes)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 fresh sausage (I used a spicy Italian pork sausage)
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 pound cheese, shredded

Thinly slice the potatoes without peeling.

Keep the slices thin, or use a mandoline on a thin setting

Keep the slices thin, or use a mandoline on a thin setting

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof pan (I like an 8-inch cast-iron pan for this) over medium heat. Peel away the sausage casing and brown the sausage meat, breaking it up into bits. Remove with a slotted spoon and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan, pressing them down to make sure there is contact. Scatter 1/2 of the onions, 1/2 of the carrots and 1/2 of the browned sausage over the potatoes.

Lengthwise thin slices like this works well, and carrots thinly sliced on the diagonal

Lengthwise thin slices like this works well, and carrots thinly sliced on the diagonal

Season salt and pepper and scatter 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Repeat a layer with another 1/3 potato slices, the remaining onions, carrots and sausage, season, and another 1/3 cheese. End with the rest of the potato and season, reserving the last 1/3 cheese for the final step.

Press down on the top to compact the layers -- I needed to so that my lid would fit

Press down on the top to compact the layers — I needed to so that my lid would fit

Cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, or until the layers are very tender when pierced with a skewer. Uncover the dish for the last 5 minutes.

Preheat a broiler. Scatter the final 1/3 cheese over the top and slide the pan under the broiler. Cook until the top is bubbly and brown.

I do recommend the little salad and glass of wine, and an amusing companion — think Wallace and Gromit!

Kelly McCune © 2013

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Preserved Lemon for Time and (Almost) All Eternity

by Kelly on December 5, 2013   

Finally my little Meyer lemon tree is putting out. It’s a shrimpy thing — only about 5 feet tall — but there must be 25 lemons on it right now. And Meyers are such a sweet, mild lemon, almost with a hint of orange to them.

Riper on the sunny side, but well on the way

Riper on the sunny side, but well on the way

I’ve always been attracted to those recipes, Middle Eastern and Moroccan ones in particular, that have a tart-sweet-salt combination. Often the sweet is honey, the salt is olives, and the tart is…preserved lemon! That is not something one can find easily, and yet is so easy to make if you’re willing to delay gratification. So here is how to make preserved lemon, and stay tuned for recipes that include it.

Preserved Lemon | makes 6 lemons

6 whole lemons, scrubbed clean and stems removed, plus extra lemons for juice
8 tablespoons kosher or sea salt (no binders or fillers, check the label)

Sterilize a 34 ounce preserving jar with a good-fitting lid (a run through the dishwasher will sterilize it or a rinse with boiling water of both the jar and the lid). Put one tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the clean jar.

Slice the lemons almost in half, from the tip to the stem end, without cutting all the way through. Cut again to the stem for quarters.

They will be a little awkward to handle but try to keep the stem end intact

They will be a little awkward to handle but try to keep the stem end intact

Pack a tablespoon of salt into the center, rubbing any excess onto the outside of the lemon. Put into the jar and repeat with the other 5 lemons and salt, pressing hard on the top to jam the lemons into the jar.

Catch the excess salt and rub it onto the lemon before putting it in the jar

Catch the excess salt and rub it onto the lemon before putting it in the jar

Smash the lemons into the jar until they completely fill the jar along with their juice

Smash the lemons into the jar until they completely fill the jar along with their juice

Add extra juice to cover the lemons if needed and sprinkle another tablespoon of salt on top.

I'll give this one more good squish before I close the jar

I’ll give this one more good squish before I close the jar

Leave them at room temperature for 3 or 4 days, turning the jar upside down for periods of time. Move to the refrigerator or a cool, dark spot for another month at least.

To use, rinse the lemon to remove the salt (if a little mold shows on top just rinse it off as well) and discard the pulp.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Beautiful to look at!

Beautiful to look at!

Almost all eternity — just make them again!

Kelly McCune © 2013

 

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