2 x 50g cans anchovy fillets in oil
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
800g floury potatoes, such as maris piper
170ml single cream
6 tbsp milk
200ml double cream
30g fresh white breadcrumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/gas 5. Pour the oil from the anchovy tins into a frying pan, add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden.
2. Meanwhile, roughly chop the anchovy fillets and cut the potatoes into approximately 7mm-thick slices, then into chunky matchsticks – about the thickness of French fries.
3. Put the single cream, milk, 170ml of the double cream, a little salt and plenty of pepper in a large shallow pan. Take care with the salt as the anchovies will be salty. Bring to a boil, stir in the potatoes, lower the heat and leave to simmer, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until just tender when pierced with a knife.
4. Grease a 2-litre shallow ovenproof dish with 15g of the butter. Spoon a thin layer (slightly less than one-third) of the potatoes over the base of the dish. Sprinkle over half the onions and half the chopped anchovies. Repeat the layers, then spoon the remaining potatoes over the top. Drizzle over the remaining double cream.
5. Melt the remaining 25g butter in a frying pan, stir in the breadcrumbs and a little seasoning. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top of the dish. Bake for 35 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden.
6. Remove from the oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Traditionally, this creamy potato recipe was made with pickled sprats, but anchovies are used today. This dish is wonderful with roast lamb and subtly highlights the lamb’s affinity with anchovies. This dish has been credited to various people, including a 19th-century missionary who founded a sect that forbade eating for pleasure – but who couldn’t resist this – and a famous Swedish chef.
- Stick with a soft ripe red if you’re serving this with lamb; but if you’re eating it on its own, try a well-chilled, dry Italian white, such as a simple, fresh Frascati.