Celeriac bake with chicken and pumpkin fritters
- November 2010
- 8 free-range boneless chicken thighs, skin-on if possible
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 500g sliced pumpkin
- 1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 75g pepitas (pumpkin seeds), shelled
- 4 spring onions, sliced
- Handful of fresh flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 large free-range egg
- 30g plain flour or cornflour, plus extra for dusting
- Groundnut oil for frying
For the celeriac gratin
- 300ml chicken stock
- 200ml double cream
- 50g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 1 celeriac
- 2 large baking potatoes, peeled
- 1 large white onion
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano
- 2 tsp sea salt (or use slightly less fine salt)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. For the fritters, put the chicken, garlic, pumpkin and herbs in a roasting tin. Season and drizzle with the oil. Toss together. (If the chicken thighs are skin-on, make sure they’re skin-side up.) Roast for 20-25 minutes until the chicken and pumpkin are almost cooked, then scatter the pepitas on top and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the chicken skin, if need be, and discard. Slice the meat thinly and put in a bowl. Roughly mash half the pumpkin and roughly chop the rest. Add to the bowl, along with any juices and browned bits from the roasting tin. Mix in the spring onion, parsley and egg, then scatter with the flour or cornflour and mix in well. Chill in the fridge to firm up.
- For the gratin, put the stock and cream in a small pan and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a rapid simmer and cook until reduced by one-third. Butter a 1.5 litre ceramic roasting dish.
- Slice all the vegetables to a thickness of 0.5cm (if you’re good with a mandoline, that would be great for this, or use a food processor with a slicing blade or a sharp knife). Put the sliced vegetables in a bowl and toss with the herbs, then layer them in the roasting dish, keeping the slices as flat as possible.
- Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper to the cream mixture, as well as the sea salt or fine salt. Pour over the vegetables and place a sheet of baking paper on top. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet (to protect the oven in case of overspill) and place in the centre of the oven. If you have a fan oven the paper will probably blow off, so sit a few metal dinner knives on top to keep it in place. Bake for 40 minutes, at which point you should be able to insert a thin knife into the vegetables. Remove the paper (but keep it) and bake the gratin until the top turns golden.
- Meanwhile, remove the fritter mixture from the fridge. Dust your hands with flour/cornflour and gently form the mixture into 16-18 balls, each about the size of a golf ball. If they’re soft, put them back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
- Heat 0.5cm groundnut oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Flatten the fritters slightly and fry in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden. Keep on a dish in a warm oven while you cook the remaining fritters.
- Take the gratin from the oven and gently press the paper back on top to even out the surface. To serve, scoop out the gratin with a spoon or cut slices and remove with a metal spatula. Serve with the fritters.
The chicken and pumpkin fritters can be made a day in advance, chilled and reheated.
Freeze the cooked gratin, once cooled, for up to 3 months. Defrost fully before reheating and serving with the freshly made pumpkin fritters.
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