Ragu with Vegetable Gratin

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This recipe is rich and delicious, a perfect autumnal comfort food. Created for us by Jack Greenall of Smoke and Thyme it will feature on his upcoming Locavore Harvest Feast Menu, but why not give it a go yourself and take part in our #harvestchallenge. 

What you need:

For the Ragu

  • 8-12 medium/large onions, diced
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 3 large parsnips, grated
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1 medium sized celeriac, grated
  • Herbs and spices
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • Salt and soy sauce to taste

For the Gratin

  • 1 kg root veg of your choice ( potatoes, parsnips, swede & celeriac work well)
  • 400ml double cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Generous pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Caramelise the onions. If possible, use a pressure cooker. Add baking soda and cook at full pressure for ~20 mins. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, fry the onions with baking soda in a heavy based frying pan over a medium-low heat for approx 2 hours.Then transfer to your biggest ovenproof pot or dish.
  2. Meanwhile, fry off the parsnips, carrots and celeriac in batches, adding each of them to the big pot with the onions as they become well browned. Add all the herbs and spices and top up with red wine. Transfer to the oven at 140C and stew for 30mins, until the liquid has thickened and the flavours have combined well. Add salt and soy sauce to taste.
  3. To make the Gratin put the milk, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, garlic and herbs into a heavy-based saucepan and heat over a low flame until steaming, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 30 mins.
  4. Coarsely grate or finely slice all the roots and arrange in an oven-proof dish. Re-heat cream until steaming again then strain through a sieve over the roots, shaking the dish a little to ensure that the liquid has penetrated evenly.
  5. Cover loosely with foil and transfer to 200C oven for 20 mins. Remove foil and cook for a further 10 mins to brown the top.
  6. The liquid should have been mostly absorbed or evaporated and the gratin should be tender and unctuous and starting to brown on top.
  7. Serve on top of the ragu and enjoy.