“This is an edited extract from Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Whaite, published by Kyle Books. Available in stores now RRP$39.99″
Sweet Potato, Gruyère and Pecan Gratin
“This is a dish that proves you don’t always need meat to make a meal. I’m a devout carnivore myself, so you can rest assured that I’m not trying to indoctrinate you with veg only ways. The nuttiness from the Gruyère and the pecans goes brilliantly with the sweet and earthy potato.” (p.46)
1.2kg sweet potatoes
400ml double cream
sprig of rosemary
100g Gruyère cheese
Butter, for greasing
Sea salt flakes,
plus extra, to taste
Coarse black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
Grease a 23cm (approx.) pie dish (ceramic is best) with butter. Whatever you do, don’t use a dish with a loose bottom or you’ll be scrubbing your oven floor for weeks.
Peel the sweet potatoes and slice each very thinly – I use a mandolin or a food processor, but it can be done using a knife, with a straight eye and steady hand. After you’ve peeled each potato, rearrange the slices as though you were trying to stick them back together to reform the whole potato. Wedge these bundles into the greased dish randomly and at different angles – treat them as though the potatoes were whole, just pack them tightly into the dish.
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the rosemary with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the cream comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.
Pour the infused cream over the waiting sweet potato. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven and take off the foil.
Coarsely grate the cheese and roughly chop the pecans, then scatter both cheese and nuts over the baked gratin. Return to the oven for a further 15–20 minutes, until the cheese top is bronzed and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to cool and set for 15 minutes before diving in.