This Tuna Bake is one of the simplest recipes I cook, and one that I’ve been gorging on during winter months for quite a few years. It’s essentially a take on scalloped potatoes, the difference is the added ingredients. I find that it’s best to use white potatoes (have no idea what they’re called outside of the UK) as they’re more absorbent, which will help to reduce the stock. Here, I’m going to add a sort of beurre manie, except mine is with rapeseed oil instead of butter. With added single cream and mature Cheddar cheese on top to use butter as well would be a little heavy.
One of the beauties about this recipe, besides how easy it is to prep and cook, is the combinations that you can use. Canned salmon – even better fresh – with either fresh parsley or dill; cooked chicken with pan-fried bacon bits. Lots of green vegetables with flageolet beans for vegetarians. The list is possibly endless!
Tuna Bake, with broccoli florets, potatoes, onions and mature Cheddar cheese
- 500ml (1.056 pt US Liq) x cold water
- 1 – 1½ x organic vegetable stock cubes
- 2 x dried bay leaves, split
- oil, rapeseed or olive
- 1 x tablespoon plain flour, sifted through a sieve if necessary
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper, less or more to personal taste
- 350g (12.3 oz) x broccoli, cut into separate florets and then split into 2 or 3 pieces, soaked and washed thoroughly. Some of the stem sliced thinly can be used as well, as long as it’s neither boast nor too fibrous
- 1 x medium onion, top sliced off and discarded, peeled, sliced thinly crossways to achieve rings
- 2 – 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 1 x 185g (130g drained weight) (6.52 oz or 4.58 oz drained weight) can tuna chunks in brine – drained
- 500g (17.6 oz) x white potatoes, peeled and sliced about 3mm (0.11 inch) thick
- 100ml (0.21 pt US Liq) x single cream
- about 200g (7.05 oz) x mature Cheddar cheese, grated
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Measure out the water and pour into a large saucepan. Add the stock cubes and bay leaves and, on low heat electric No 2 (out of 6), allow the cubes to dissolve.
- Pour in enough oil to cover the base of a small saucepan and put on heat No 1. Add the plain flour, sifting it if necessary. Stir through and allow the flour to cook out. Any signs of the mixture bubbling then take off heat and allow to cool before putting back on heat again. Flour must not turn brown! If mixture is too thick then simply add a little more oil.
- Once the flour has cooked out for around 4 – 5 minutes add the cayenne pepper and stir through. Then, pour into the stock when the cubes have dissolved. Up the heat for the large saucepan and bring this to near boiling point to thicken slightly. This has to be stirred pretty much constantly to avoid lumps from forming. The single cream can be added at this stage, otherwise add after pouring over the sauce into the roasting tin. Once thickened take off heat and set aside.
- Prep the broccoli by cutting and removing the separate florets, then slice them into 2 or 3 pieces – that way it’s easier to check for unwanted *things* that might be lurking. Besides, the florets will cook more evenly. Some of the stem can be used, as long as it’s trimmed and sliced quite thin. If boast or too tough then discard. Place all in plenty of cold water for around 10 minutes. Drain well and scatter about half in the base of a suitable roasting tin, large enough for 4 portions.
- Prep the onions by slicing off the top and discarding it. Peel, then slice crossways into thin slices. Separate into rings and scatter about half over the broccoli.
- Add all of the garlic at this stage as otherwise any garlic on top would roast until crisp, if not burnt – not a good flavour.
- With a fork distribute the drained tuna chunks as evenly throughout as possible.
- When the stock/sauce is ready then start to prep half of the potatoes. I peel some and place them in enough cold water to cover completely to prevent the potatoes from turning pink. Slice some of them about 3 mm (0.11 inch) thick, place on top of the onion rings and pour over the sauce to cover. If you haven’t added the cream yet then pour over as evenly as possible at this stage.
- Preheat oven to 200ºC (392ºF).
- Scatter over another layer of florets and onion rings. For the remaining potatoes add a little oil to a bowl and, once the potatoes are sliced place them into the oil. Make sure the potato slices are coated evenly in oil before putting them, as neatly as possible, on top of the roaster. That way they’ll not only roast nicely, you’ll have something to crunch into. It is possible to flatten the top slightly just by pressing the palm of your hand on the potato slices to try and get the surface as even as possible.
- Place the roasting tin on the second shelf up in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes. If both the potatoes on top and within the bake are cooked then add the cheese. With my electric oven it does take longer to cook this completely, usually an hour.
- Grate the cheese, if using, and set aside. Carefully remove the roasting tin after 45 minutes and scatter over the cheese. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, if not fully cooked. Turn on the grill and continue to cook until the cheese is nicely golden.
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