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Root Vegetable Gratin

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

by Nell Gifford & Ols Halas from Giffords Circus Cookbook:

Recipes & Stories From a Magical Circus Restaurant (Quadrille)

Photography by David Loftus

We’ve had this on the menu so many times, and people love it so much that they try to recreate it at home – but sometimes with disastrous results if they leave out the potatoes. It’s the starch that holds it together, so it’s imperative to include them… and the rest of what you use can be whatever you dig out of the allotment!

Serves 8–10


750ml double cream

250ml milk

3 garlic cloves, bashed with the

flat of a knife

3 sprigs of thyme

3 large starchy potatoes

2 beetroots

2 parsnips

½ swede

½ celeriac

200g gruyère cheese, grated

a grating of nutmeg

sea salt and white pepper


In a saucepan, bring the cream, milk, garlic and thyme to a simmer.

Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and root vegetables, then cut into 2–3mm-thick slices, ideally using a mandoline.

Pass the infused cream through a sieve and season well with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.

In a deep baking dish, start layering your gratin: a neat layer of potatoes and roots, followed by some of the cream, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Do this several times until you run out of vegetables – make sure there are potatoes in each layer and finish the top with plenty of cheese.

Bake for 30–40 minutes, depending on how deep the gratin is – prod it with a knife to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

Serve, still bubbling, on the table and let your guests dig in!

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1 Comment

Hi Nigel. I thought I heard you mention adding wine to one of your recipes - I thought it was this one but I may be wrong as I was also doing something else at the time. Something about pouring over the melted cheese with wine? Thanks!

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