Turkey dripping, blue cheese and crushed hazelnut crumb

These sexy, little beauties are super-fun to make, look amazing, loads of people will never have seen or enjoyed them before and the flavour combination here just cooks into the potatoes so, so well. People. Will. Talk. About. These.

Ingredients

2.5kg Maris Piper potatoes (choose the smallest ones)

½ bunch fresh thyme (15g)

4 tbsp turkey dripping or olive oil

50g stale bread

40g hazelnuts

100g blue cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. The fun and unique part of this side dish is that you need to slice multiple times through the potatoes, but – importantly – without going all the way through, giving you a kind of concertina-style potato. This looks beautiful but also makes them wonderfully absorbent of flavour and amplifies their crispiness. Try to choose small potatoes, give them a wash, and if you have any larger ones, cut them in half and use the flat side as a base.

To make this process as simple as possible, place a potato on a board between the handles of two wooden spoons, so that when you slice down into the potato the spoons stop the blade from going all the way through. Carefully slice at just under ½cm intervals all the way along. Repeat with all the potatoes, placing them in a large roasting tray as you go. Pick half the thyme leaves and put into a pestle and mortar and pound with the turkey dripping or oil. Spoon the mix over the potatoes, making sure the fat gets down into the cuts you’ve made, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are golden and tender.

Meanwhile, tear the bread into a baking dish, add the hazelnuts and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, then tip into a food processor, strip in most of the remaining thyme leaves, add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and half the cheese, and pulse into coarse crumbs.

When the hour is up, sprinkle the crumbs over the potatoes, then finely crumble a little bit of the remaining blue cheese on to each one. Dress the rest of the thyme sprigs with a tiny bit of oil and sprinkle randomly on top. Return to the oven for a final 10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt, then serve.

Get ahead: You can cook these in advance up to the point where they’re roasted and sprinkled with the toppings, then just finish them off when you’re ready, ensuring that they’re hot and crisp before serving.

Recipe from  Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook. The book is published by Penguin Random House ⓒ Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited and is available from Loot.co.za for R369. Click  here to purchase

The Independent