sausage gratin and vegetable tian with thyme

a poncy name for a very simple dish.

yet again, this is adapted from pork and sons (i promise it will stop soon, i do have other cookery books), but more by a happy collection of circumstances than by design. this is basically what we had in the fridge and freezer and it required minimal effort. not sure why, but after our nottingham trip we were both so tired that we literally couldn't keep our eyes open that evening. there was no way i was going to spend more than 10 minutes in the kitchen.

there is yet again a lot of slicing for which you probably need a mandolin or a very sharp knife. if the veg is too thick, it won't cook properly.

i would say it's probably best made in the summer when the veg used is at its best. i give the original recipe quantities rather than my own - we didn't have enough tomatoes or courgettes but it's the same principle.

recipes like this show you it's worth having a few fresh herbs stashed away in your fridge draw - this kind of dish would be seriously bland without the thyme and the bay leaves. the original recipe uses the small smoked sausages called montbeliard, which i am sure would be nicer, but we just use the normal pork ones from the butcher. you could, in theory, make this with veggie sausages but i would increase the amount of butter and maybe crumble over a vegetable stock cube to give it a bit more flavour. that would be nice sprinkled with grated parmesan.

for six

2 aubergines, cut into thin rounds
6 tomatoes, cut into thin rounds
4 courgettes, cut into thin rounds
3 large onion, cut into thin rounds
6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only (i chucked the whole thing in and took it out at the end)
4 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
175ml white wine
100ml olive oil
20g unsalted butter
6 smoked or other sausages
sea salt

preheat the oven to 160C.

place all the veg vertically, in layers, in a casserole dish. i started from the outside and just alternated a few slices of each of courgette, aubergine and onion. i filled the dish as best as i could, quite loosely, and then squeezed the slices of tomatoes in-between the other veg.

add the thyme and bay leaves, garlic, white wine, oil and butter. prick the sausages and place them on top.

cover with the lid and bake in the oven for 1.5 hour or until the vegetables are tender. the original recipe says an hour but i found that not long enough so i took the lid off and increased the temperature to 200 for the last 20 minutes. this browned the sausages and cooked the veg through without drying it out too much.

you might not need to add salt at all, depending on how salty your sausages are, so don't do it until the very end.


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