Baked caramelised onions and potatoes with thyme

Baked caramelised onions and potatoes with thyme

William Meppem


Quantity Ingredient
6-8 medium-sized nicola or sebego potatoes, peeled
500ml Chicken stock
6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
generous pinch salt
50ml olive oil
4 brown onions, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
100g butter
2 bunches thyme, leaves chopped
150ml duck fat
sea salt


  1. Shape the potatoes with a small knife or swivel peeler into even-sized barrel shapes, then slice into 1⁄2 cm thick slices, preferably using a mandolin. Rinse in water until the water runs clear.
  2. Put the chicken stock into a large saucepan, add the garlic and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Add the potato slices, season with salt and bring almost to the boil. Then drain the potatoes over a bowl to catch the stock, which can be reused in other dishes.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a wide frying pan with a little olive oil over a medium heat. Fry the onions gently until they collapse, then add half the butter and turn up the heat so the onions begin to caramelise, stirring constantly. Add about three-quarters of the thyme once the onions have caramelised and remove from heat. Drain the onions onto a tray, spreading them thinly, and allow to cool.
  4. Brush an oval baking dish, about 5 cm deep, with butter. Reserve a quarter of the nicest-looking potato slices and mix the remainder with the onions. Layer the mixed potatoes and onions into the baking dish tightly, moistening with reserved chicken stock as you go but taking care not to add too much liquid. Once you have reached the top put a sheet of aluminium foil over and a lid or tray that fits snugly on the foil, with a weight on top to press the mixture flat and even. Leave to flatten for 30–40 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  6. Once pressed remove the foil and arrange the reserved potato slices as tightly and neatly as possible overlapping across the top of dish. Add a little stock, allowing it to drain through, then brush the top with the remaining butter and duck fat melted together. Sprinkle with the reserved thyme and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  7. Place a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the potatoes with a smaller lid on top to keep the potatoes pressed flat. Bake for 40 minutes until caramelised, then remove the lid and paper, increase the oven temperature to 220°C and bake for another 10–15 minutes, until well coloured. Serve immediately.

Chef’s note

  • This fairly complicated potato bake is worth the effort, as it is an excellent accompaniment to both meat and fish. You can make it a day prior and press with a heavy weight in the refrigerator overnight. Then cut out neat portions and reheat as required. Duck and goose fat are available at gourmet stores. Bacon lardons are also a good addition.
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