As a child, staple food in our Geordie household consisted of anything potato based. So it could have been mashed potato with cabbage and bacon, chips, bubble and squeak or just boiled potatoes with gravy. I think I grew up thinking that potato had to be eaten with each meal or I would come down with some horrible illness. There could be no other reason for it featuring on my tea time plate each day.
One potato based dish that was always my favourite, and served to me at least once a week, was a pan haggerty, or panackelty depending on which side of the Tyne you were born. A traditional Northumbrian dish, pan haggerty is basically thinly sliced potato and onion, layered in a frying pan and cooked on a low heat. I've no idea if it derives from the French and their various 'thinly sliced potato' dishes or not. The word 'haggerty' is said to derive from the French word for slice, 'hachis', so possibly it does. But I prefer to think romantically that it is a Geordie born dish derived from cheap and plentiful filling ingredients. Either way, it is absolutely delicious.
Techniques for cooking a pan haggerty vary all over the North East, making it one of those classic dishes which can create a heated debate amongst housewives, often leading to violence. For example, when I made this dish on MasterChef Goes Large last year, my mam rang me immediately after watching it not to congratulate me on reaching the semi-finals, but to berate me for making it incorrectly. 'It should have corned beef in it and cooked in a little water for hours on end!', she explained. I couldn't argue as this was the very food I ate every week when I lived at home. And I didn't want a clip around the ear.
My version is, well, my version. No frills, very easy to make and absolutely moreish. Crunchy and golden on the bottom, soft and gooey in the middle, cheesy and bubbling on the top. It can be made as little individual pan haggertys like in the recipe below, or it can be made in a large ovenproof frying pan. Just increase the quantities. It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge and is amazing cold or reheated and a brilliant accompaniment to roasts or as a variation on roast potatoes for your Sunday lunch. Pan haggerty or panackelty. Who cares, as long as it is delicious. Just don't argue with your mam about it...
Makes one individual, quadruple the ingredients for 1 full frying pan
Half an onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 floury potato such as King Edward, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp goose fat, lard or vegetable oil
A little Cheddar cheese, grated
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, GM6.
2 - In an ovenproof frying pan, heat up the vegetable oil and cook the onion for 5 minutes until softened and beginning to caramelise. Remove and set aside on kitchen towel.
3 - Wipe the pan clean, place back onto the heat then add your fat of choice. Place a chef's ring into the pan and add a layer of potatoes, making a neat ring. Add some of the cooked onions then salt and pepper. Continue in this fashion until you have filled the chef's ring.
4 - Spoon over some of the melted fat. Cover with foil then place on a high shelf in the oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil. Test the potato with a sharp knife, it should glide in easily.
5 - Put the grill on high. Sprinkle a little grated cheese onto the potato then place under the grill until golden and bubbly. Run a knife around the edge then plate. These will keep in the fridge for 2 days.