Pan haggerty sits somewhere between a French gratin and a Welsh onion cake, being a layered dish of potatoes, cheese and onion, cooked on the hob in a frying pan. It is properly made with beef dripping, but can also be made with butter, lard or goose fat – or, for a distinctly Mediterranean slant, with olive oil, in which case call it something else to avoid recriminations from purists.
Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can, ideally on a mandolin grater. Soak in cold water for 10 minutes, drain and dry with a cloth. (This is not, strictly speaking, essential but will help prevent exuded starch from causing the potatoes to stick to the pan.)
Put a 23-cm / 9-inch frying pan over a low heat and melt your chosen fat. Remove the pan from the heat and cover the base with a layer of overlapping potato slices. Season with salt and pepper, then put on a layer of onion, then one of cheese, repeating the layers until all the ingredients are used up and finishing with a layer of potatoes. Brush this top layer with melted fat.
Return to a low heat for 20–25 minutes, turning the pan at regular intervals to ensure an even heat distribution.
Transfer the pan to under a grill, also set to a low temperature, for about 10 minutes. Turn the grill to maximum briefly and, as soon as the potatoes are a uniform golden brown, transfer back to the hob over a high heat for a minute.
Slide the haggerty out on a cutting board and slice into wedges like a tart. Serve while still very hot.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.