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Bacon Potato and Mushroom Gratin


The wetter, the better. At least that is what the folk who grub around in the woods for mushrooms would like the spring weather to be.  Personally I have always been too nervous to attempt eat a self picked mushroom. Shame to say but I only eat them if I buy them from my favourite veggie shop or served in a reputable restaurant.

I was once invited by some friends in the old German Democratic Republic  to go mushroom hunting. For them such a field trip was on a par to us in western Europe going to the Bahamas for a summer  holiday. The weather that day was miserable, with cold misty rain dripping from the fir trees down the collar of my lightweight raincoat. My hosts, were ecstatic; happy as pigs in muck, scrubbing around in the leaf mould all geared up in their black leather coats, plastic hats, rubber boots and equipped with chipped enamel  buckets. The only feeling I had was my socks getting wetter as the sopping undergrowth slowly disintegrated my nice brown brogues.
Admittedly, when the scavenging was over and we returned with their buckets to the rudimentary wooden hut they called a dacha, I thoroughly enjoyed a plateful of grilled morels, with jacket potatoes cooked in the ashes of the fire and washed down with  bottles of sweet dark beer and homemade schnapps.
I trust that you will find this week’s recipe  - accompanied with a crisp salad and a glass of wine and eaten in which ever dacha you may find yourselves - very satisfying.

Bacon Potato and Mushroom Gratin Recipe
Serves 2

Ingredients
• 250 gm small new potatoes
• 1 x salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion peeled and minced
• 125 gm bacon without rind and diced
• 125 gm mushrooms sliced if large
• 125 gm cheddar cheese grated

Preperation
Wash the potatoes and halve them.
Add in to a pan of boiling salted water bring to the boil then cook in the simmering oven for 15 to 20 min till tender. Drain thoroughly.
In the meantime heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan on the simmering plate. Add in the onion and bacon and cook gently stirring frequently till the onion is softened.
Add in the mushrooms and transfer the frying pan to the boiling plate.
Stir try for 2 or 3 min till the mushrooms are cooked.
Transfer the bacon onion and mushroom mix to a flameproof gratin dish and stir in the potatoes.
Season with pepper to taste and top with the grated cheese
Place in the middle of the oven positioning the dish towards the back of the oven.
Cook for 7 to 10 min till the cheese is bubbling.
Serve immediately.
For a vegetarian version of this dish replace the bacon with sliced leeks increasing the extra virgin olive oil by 1 tbsp and adding a sprinkling of minced thyme.

 

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