Monday, 21 March 2011

Sformati di patate con salsa di aglio selvatico – Potato flans with wild garlic sauce

Sformato di patate with asparagus sauce is a winning starter from Teresina on via Oberdan. Ruth and the girls were up for the weekend and we decided that we would try it with a wild garlic sauce – in the new spirit of foraging - as the opener of a three course dinner. On a walk up the stream and through the woods earlier in the day we’d noticed the green carpet of new wild garlic which is still tender enough to eat in a salad but which makes a subtlety garlic inflected sauce to accompany the sformato.

The main course – which will appear here later in the week – was rabbit ragù with pappardelle – followed by zuppa inglese. More of both later.

If you have the Silver Spoon cookbook you’ll see a long list of vegetable sformati, including leek and spinach. You may have tried my recipe for leek sformati with a red pepper sauce. Do try the potato version. If you don’t have a conveniently sited bed of wild garlic you could make a sauce with leek or spring onion.

Makes enough for six.

50g butter

35g plain flour

350g milk

6 bay leaves

½ tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper

500g waxy potato eg Charlotte

3 large eggs

75g parmesan grated

3tbl olive oil

150g wild garlic, well washed

1 onion

100ml double cream


1. Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and steam

2. Make a béchamel sauce by melting 35g of the butter, adding the flout to make a roux and adding the milk to form a smooth sauce to which you add the cheese, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. When cooler, stir in the three lightly beaten eggs.

3. When the potato is cooked, mash, and amalgamate with the sauce.

4. Butter six metal moulds or ramekins and spoon in the potato sauce.

5. Place the moulds in a bain-marie filled with water two-thirds of the way up the containers. Cover with foil and place in a medium oven – about 170 degrees C. for 30 minutes. Use a skewer to check that the sformati are cooked – it should come out clean - remove them from the bain-marie and allow to cool. Then, run a knife around each sformato and tip onto a plate.

6. Make the sauce by softening in olive oil a finely chopped onion. and then adding the wild garlic.

7. Add the cream, cook for three minutes on a medium heat, then liquidise to create a smooth sauce.

8. Spoon some sauce around each sformato and serve.

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