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Christmas Presents

Mains

Let the conversation flow as glasses are raised and lasting memories made: it’s time for the main event. This collection spans all kinds of dishes but all share a theme – unfussy presentation and flavours to elicit cries of “yes please!” when a second portion is offered

RECIPE COLLECTION

Leek and ham hock gratin

SERVES 6

HANDS-ON TIME 35 MIN, OVEN TIME 50 MIN

• 100g unsalted butter, plus extra if needed

• 6 leeks, cut into thirds

• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

• ¼ whole nutmeg, grated

• 50g plain flour

• 500ml good quality fresh chicken stock

• 300ml whole milk

• 2 bay leaves

• 300g shredded British free-range ham hock (available ready prepared from supermarkets, or use shredded cooked ham)

• 25g parmesan, grated

• 800g floury potatoes (about 4 medium baking potatoes)

1. Melt 50g of the butter in a large sauté pan and add the leeks. Cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until the leeks are lightly browned and golden all over. Remove the leeks, leaving the butter in the pan. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6.

2. Add the garlic to the butter in the pan and cook gently for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the nutmeg, then stir through the flour. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes – the mixture should be thick and paste-like. Gradually, in a thin stream, pour in the chicken stock, stirring constantly – the mixture should thicken quickly, then gradually thin out, but always stay thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it becomes too thin, stop adding liquid and let it bubble for a minute.

3. Once you’ve added all the stock, pour in the milk the same way, but a little more quickly. You should end up with a glossy sauce with the consistency of double cream. Add the bay leaves and bubble for 2-3 minutes.

4. Put the leeks in a 1.5 litre ovenproof gratin dish and scatter with the ham. Pour over the sauce and top with the parmesan. Give it a gentle stir, then taste and season.

5. Melt the remaining butter in a pan and set aside. Peel the potatoes, grate coarsely, then put in the centre of a double layer of muslin or clean J Cloth. Gather the cloth around and squeeze firmly to remove any excess water.

6. Tip the potatoes into a bowl, pour over the melted butter and some salt, then toss with your hands. Scatter over the top of the leeks with a little more salt. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes. If the topping browns unevenly, melt a bit more butter and brush it over.

7. When golden and bubbling, remove the dish from the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve with green salad leaves, if you like.

PER SERVING 410kcals, 20.7g fat (11.5g saturated), 23.3g protein, 33.7g carbs (5.4g sugars), 1.5g salt, 5.6g fibre

MAKE AHEAD

Make to the end of step 4 up to 2 days ahead, cool, cover and chill. Or freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost, then continue with the recipe.

Caramelised onion tart with walnut and parmesan crust

SERVES 8

HANDS-ON TIME 2 HOURS, COOKING TIME 2 HOURS 45 MIN, PLUS CHILLING

FOR THE FILLING

• 100g unsalted butter

• 10 large onions, thickly sliced (see tip)

• 1 tbsp sherry vinegar

• 1 tsp soft light brown sugar

• 50g walnut pieces

• 30g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated

FOR THE PASTRY

• 220g plain flour, plus extra to dust

• 110g unsalted butter, chilled, diced

• ½ tsp salt

• 2 free-range egg yolks, mixed with 3 tbsp chilled water

1. To make the filling, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan, add the onions and toss to coat. Cook over a low-medium heat, partially covered, stirring often, for 1½-2 hours until pale golden and very soft.

2. Meanwhile, make the pastry. In a mixing bowl, rub the flour, butter and salt together between your fingertips until the mixture has a sandy texture. Using a dinner knife, stir through the egg yolk and water mixture to bring the dough together, then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly until smooth. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use to line a 23cm fluted tart tin. Roll a rolling pin over the top to cut off the excess pastry (save for any patching up), then freeze the pastry case for 5 minutes or chill for 20 minutes.

4. Line the case with foil or baking paper, fill with baking beans/uncooked rice and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/rice and foil/paper, prick the base all over with a fork, then return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the pastry is sandy coloured and crisp all over.

5. Add the sherry vinegar and sugar to the onions, then cook for another 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with salt, then leave to cool slightly.

6. Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool slightly, then whizz in a food processor to fine crumbs (or finely chop). Toss with the cheese.

7. Transfer the onions to the pastry case, flatten down slightly, then scatter over the walnut mix. Turn the oven down to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 6. Bake the tart for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Leave the tart to cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve with a bitter leaf salad, if you like.

PER SERVING 434kcals, 28.8g fat (14.6g saturated), 8.1g protein, 36.3g carbs (11.7g sugars), 0.1g salt, 5g fibre

COOK’S TIP

Slice the onions by hand to around 0.5cm. Any thinner and they’ll disintegrate. Don’t use a food processor as the results won’t be as good.

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About Delicious Magazine

There’s something magical about preparing feasts for friends and family. But what to cook? This collection of brilliant mix and match dishes includes recipes for every occasion, all tested in the delicious. magazine kitchen. Whether you’re cooking a casual supper or three-course feast, these recipes will take the pressure off you and guarantee happy guests with clean plates.
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