Another naturally gluten-free recipe, featuring my all-time favourite carb: potato! I stumbled across this recipe in my Good Housekeeping World Cookery book which I inherited from my husband’s father. I’ve talked before of my kitchen library and my love of the forgotten, the old and the obscure: books which I’ve either inherited, adopted, rescued or acquired under rather murky circumstances. I can flick through these books endlessly and I always seem to find something new in them.

Like this recipe for pan haggerty in the British Isles section of the book. Which surprises me as it was originally entitled “Northumberland Pan Haggerty”. I have spoken before of my ancestry on my maternal grandmother’s side, which is Cornish through and through, and my fondness for the cuisine of that region (aah, pasties…!, spoken in a Homer-esque kind of way).

But I haven’t spoken of that on my father’s, which is as northern as it gets, hailing from both Northumberland and Scotland. I was lucky enough to go up to Alnwick a few years ago to explore the town and nearby villages of Bolton and Edlingham, where my great-great-grandfather grew up in the blacksmith’s forge. If you’ve never visited Northumberland, I urge you to go. It is stunningly beautiful and has everything you could wish for: beaches to die for, ruined castles, and sweeping and craggy moorland which gives way to the most idyllic and bucolic of landscapes. The gardens at Alnwick Castle are also some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame I live so far away. Sigh.

Anyway, I’ve dispensed with the “Northumberland” bit for three reasons. Firstly, I haven’t made it on the stove in a frying pan, as the recipe directed, but slapped it in the oven, as is my wont; secondly, I don’t know what cheese it would have had in it originally but I’d put money on the fact that it wasn’t emmental; and, thirdly, even without the emmental, I remain suspicious about its authenticity, having also read the book’s section on Italian cookery…

Naturally gluten-free pan haggerty with emmental cheese

Slices of crisp then tender potatoes, layered with sweet onions and oozing cheese. Comfort food that can be eaten either as a side-dish or as a light lunch with a salad. The variations are endless: add grilled bacon, wilted spinach or fried mushrooms to the layers…or all three!

700g (peeled weight) potatoes
1 very large, or 2 medium, onions, peeled
150g emmental cheese (I used ready-sliced emmental which works out as 6 slices at 25g each)
50g butter
salt and pepper

You will also need a buttered non-stick baking tin, measuring approximately 24cm x 20cm x 4cm.

Preheat the oven to its hottest setting. Slice the peeled potatoes into 2mm slices and place in a pan of cold water. Slice the onions into 2mm slices. Drain the potatoes and rinse once or twice more in cold water until the water is clear. Drain, place the slices on a dry tea towel and pat dry.

Place a third of the potato slices in a layer on the bottom of the buttered baking tin. Season with salt and pepper and lay three slices of emmental over the top. Spread half of the onion slices in a layer over the top of the cheese, then repeat with the next third of potato slices. Season well with salt and pepper and dot with half the butter. Lay the final three slices of emmental over the top, then the remaining onions and finish with the final third of potato slices. Season well with salt and pepper and dot with the remaining butter.

Bake in the oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until the top is golden and the potato feels tender to the point of a sharp knife.

Serve as a side dish with grilled or roasted meat or as the star of the show, with a green side salad.

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