Fennel and Potato Gratin Flavoured with Anchovy, Poached Egg and Salad

Twin Peaks night was upon us again. For a starter I made a modified version of French Watercress soup recipe from ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ by Julia Childs, for which, see above. This dish was our main, which was wonderfully savoury. KJ brought Viennetta for pudding(!) – in keeping with the era of Twin Peaks – and ZJ made an appropriate fruit salad to match, which was fab. 

This served five of us (after a soup starter)


2 Fennel trimmed and sliced so the base is sitting on the chopping board into ½ cm thick pieces

6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin-ishly

3 garlic cloves pounded together to a paste with about 6-10 anchovies and juice of half a lemon in pestle & mortar

2 tablespoons capers

about 100ml cream (optional, I just had some left over)

good olive oil

Knob of butter

How I made it:

Call me crazy, but I griddled the fennel and potato on each side for a few minutes until they had lines on to add a smoky flavour to the dish. This is definitely optional but was pretty easy to do. In a ceramic dish, layer potatoes and fennel with dabs of the anchovy garlic mix and a scattering of capers and a drizzle of cream, olive oil and salt between the layers. Continue until all is used. I then poured in about two small cups of water to the dish – not so that the water reaches the top of the dish, but until it’s about halfway up – and put two small knobs of butter on top.  The water is so that the potato cooks through and creates a bit of juice at the bottom.

Cook in an oven at 180 degrees celsius for about 30-40 minutes.

Eaten with:

A poached egg on top – one for each person. And a green salad with tomatoes and a dressing made from 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 dessert spoon red wine vinegar, about ¾ dessert spoons olive oil, salt and pepper whisked together. Several glasses of wine.

I also thought that in the event of having some fresh white fish, this would work well to make a dish with it.


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