Hot Lightning

Ever since reading and cooking from Diana Henry’s spectacular cold weather inspired cookbook, Roast Figs Sugar Snow, I’ve been fascinated (or would that be obsessed?) with her recipe for Hot Lightning. The recipe title is a translation of hete bliksem, a traditional potato dish from Holland. In many of the recipes from Dutch kitchens, hete bliksem is a delicious sweetened combination of potatoes and apples boiled or mashed together and highlighted with bits of bacon or spek.

Diana Henry modified this traditional dish by roasting instead of boiling or mashing, added pears and spiked the whole thing with a fragrant sprinkling of thyme. I’ve followed Diana Henry’s recipe with great success. We’ve had it with pork roasts and with ham and even with chicken and turkey. Her version is an innovative variation and a welcome change from simple roast potatoes.

I loved it so much that I also began experimenting with the recipe. I wanted to come up with a one-pot meal, straight from the oven. So, I adapted a technique I picked up in the newspaper recipe by Nigel Slater, took out the sweet element and added a few savory ingredients, including a wonderful organic plain pork sausage we get straight from the farm.

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Hete Bliksem met Worst (Hot Lightning with Sausage)
For a complete meal, I often serve this with steamed kale, a natural companion to pork.

  • 1-1/2 lbs pork sausage
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots
  • 1-1/2 lbs. potatoes (about 6 medium-sized)
  • 4 Apples, sweet-tart, firm type such as Braeburn
  • 4 small firm Pears
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. I sometimes use new potatoes, cut in half if large or whole if small, leaving the skin on. Chop the shallots. Peel, core and cut the apples and pears in half. Set these aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy stove top and oven proof casserole or roasting pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Sauté the shallots on medium heat until they are transparent. Add the potatoes to the pan, stir and let them get coated with the onion and oil. Continue cooking until the shallots and potatoes begin to take on a golden color. Add the sausage links and lightly brown on all sides.

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Add the apple and pear halves, tucking them between the sausage and potatoes. Turn off heat. Pour in the broth in the corners of the pan. Sprinkle with thyme and put in the oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The stock will have reduced to produce a lovely gravy.

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