Valentine Warner’s recipe for Pommes Boulanger
Recently I was lucky enough to meet celebrity chef Valentine Warner and have him cook a delicious dinner inspired by Leffe beer and his love of slow cooking. Valentine has devised some delicious slow cooked recipes that pair perfectly with the taste of Leffe, the Belgian abbey beer. Here he shares his recipe for Pommes Boulanger which was served up with a delicious slow-cooked lamb (recipe soon!) and a fresh tomato salad.
Stock (unless you already have some!)
1 fresh chicken carcass (or leftovers from a roast)
oil or a little butter
750ml cold water
flaked sea salt
2 tbs olive oil
3 white onions, peeled (skins for stock)
finely sliced leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme (reserve stalks for stock)
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1.5kg waxy potatoes
flaked sea salt and black pepper
If using the carcass from a roasted chicken, ideally use one that has not been stuffed with lemon, as this makes for a faintly bitter and unpleasant stock. Chop up the chicken carcass and fry the pieces in the oil or butter in your stockpot until nicely coloured and golden. Put the stripped stalks from the thyme along with the skins and trimmings from the onions you will use for the potatoes; in the pot with the water. Bring up to the gentlest simmer and cook it like this, with the lid off, for an hour. When the time is up, skim off any fat that has risen to the top and add enough salt to make the stock very tasty in its own right.
Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/Gas 61Ž2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and thyme leaves and cook gently until the onions are totally soft but not coloured. This should take about 20 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, splash the onions with the vinegar and keep cooking until it has totally evaporated. Next grease a baking dish with 25g of the butter.
Peel the potatoes and slice them lengthways to the thickness of a £1 coin. Place a layer of potatoes, slightly overlapping, across the bottom of the greased dish. Take a third of the onions and drape them evenly over the potatoes. Dot here and there with a third of the remaining butter and sprinkle over generously with salt and a proper bombardment of black pepper. Now add another layer of potatoes, more onions and more butter. Do this until everything has been used up.
Pour 500ml of the chicken stock over the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 40 minutes. After this time, remove the foil and leave the dish in the oven for a further 20 minutes until the top takes on some rich golden colouring. Remove from the oven and eat with something like a good steak and an honest bottle of red wine. Leftovers can simply be heated up in the oven and covered in Parmesan or hard sheep’s milk cheese, which makes for a respectable little lunch, needing no accompaniment of meat.