We’ve had pan haggerty on the menu in various guises for years. Traditionally, this Northumberland dish is vegetarian and simple to make by just baking together potatoes, onions and cheese with a touch of seasoning. Similar dishes exist in just about any country that has a history of eating potatoes including pommes Anna in France or even the Celtic onion and potato cakes. Suffice to say, if you have potatoes and a slow oven, one day, given enough time, you’ll develop pan haggerty or something like it.
To give the dish a twist, we often serve a smoked haddock version of it in the restaurant and we include a few greens at the bottom so making it a complete one-pot meal. Great eaten just on it’s own but it could be accompanied by a green salad or even a few more green vegetables.
It can also be made in advance and refrigerated just before the final cooking, making this a very easy dinner party dish. And to prove the point, we actually freeze it in individual portion sizes and sell it under our Oldfields Pantry brand for you to eat at home!. But you could just follow this recipe.
- 500g potatoes – peeled and thinly sliced
- 250g onions – peeled and thinly sliced
- A couple of large pinches of fresh thyme
- 100g of chilled butter
- 150g of mature cheddar – grated
- 700g undyed smoked haddock – skinned and pin-boned
- A few greens such as a large leek, leaves of spring greens or four handfuls of spinach – washed and blanched.
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6)
Ask the fishmonger to skin and pin-bone the fish for you. However, to make sure all the bones are gone, rub your hand along the fish in both directions and, if you find any bones, remove them with a pair of tweezers or pointed-nose pliers.
Cut the chilled butter into small dice and then mix the potatoes, onions, thyme, butter and cheese (reserving about a dessert spoon of cheese) together, adding a little salt and pepper, before spreading out in a baking tin. Place in the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Either in an oven-proof dish big enough for four or in individual dishes, start by lining the bottom of the dish with the blanched greens and grind on a little pepper (salt isn’t needed as there’s enough in the fish). Next place smoked haddock on top, breaking it into pieces if necessary, sprinkle half the remaining cheese on top of the fish then pile the cooked potato and onion on top, finishing with the remainder of the grated cheese.
Bake in the oven for around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how deep the dish is. Check it’s fully heated in the middle by inserting the tip of a knife or skewer for a few seconds and see if it gets hot. If not, put the dish back in the oven for another ten minutes.
Previously published in The Northern Echo