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Jamie says: "The oven does the hard work in this creamy, indulgent side dish." See method
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Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Scrub the parsnips and potatoes (there's no need to peel them), peel the onions and finely slice it all, adding to a large casserole dish as you go.
Peel, finely slice and add the garlic, strip in most of the thyme, then roughly bash and add most of the chestnuts (if using). Drizzle over 2 tbsp oil, add a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and toss everything together well. Arrange in a fairly even layer, pour over 300ml water, then tightly cover with foil and roast for 1 hr 10 mins.
Remove the dish from the oven, lift up the foil and drizzle over the cream. Re-cover, then put a folded tea towel on top and carefully press down to compress everything. Discard the foil.
Finely grate over the cheese, scatter with the reserved chestnuts and pick over the remaining thyme leaves. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil, then return to the oven for a further 20 mins, or until golden and bubbling. Let it sit for a few mins before serving.
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