Crumble is one of those peculiarly English things which appears to have passed me by. Whilst everyone I know adores it, I’ve always found it to be quite underwhelming. Perhaps it’s because my overriding memory of the stuff is being served it at school dinners. Mancunian school-dinner-crumble was practically inedible – big lumps of fibrous mulch hidden underneath a bone dry topping. The best part was the chocolate custard it came with, although this was invariably lumpy, with a rather unpalatable skin on top. No wonder I begged my Mum to allow me to take packed lunches to school.
Perhaps the problem lay with sweet crumbles. OK, so they’re the quintessential British teatime treat, but apple crumble has never really buttered my crumpet. Savoury crumbles however. Well, they’re another matter entirely.
The idea for this Bacon, Fennel and Potato crumble came when I was wondering exactly what to do with all of the fennel bulbs festering away at the back of my fridge and contemplated turning them into a tasty gratin. However, I was all out of breadcrumbs and there was no way I could acquire any (if by ‘no way,’ you mean ‘I couldn’t be arsed schlepping to ASDA to buy any’). So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own savoury teatime masterpiece. Potatoes were boiled and sliced, bacon and fennel sweated in their own delicious juices, and the whole thing was smothered in créme fraiche and a bucketload of cheese. The end result was delicious – sweet, salty and savoury all at the same time, a big plate of comfort.
Whilst I may still take some convincing on the merits of fruit crumbles, this Bacon, Fennel and Potato Crumble is definitely a keeper. In fact, it’s so good, it deserves to have an entire song dedicated to it…
BACON, FENNEL AND POTATO CRUMBLE (Serves Four)
You will need:
- Four medium sized potatoes
- Two bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced
- Four slices of good quality bacon
- 300ml créme fraiche
- 50g cheddar, grated
- Salt and Pepper
For the crumble topping:
- 150g plain flour
- 150g butter
- 50g parmesan, grated (I estimated it as being 50g, but honestly, just add as much as you like to make it tasty)
- 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to season
- Peel your potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them for around five minutes. Drain, leave to cool, and slice thinly. Layer these at the bottom of a large casserole dish
- Slice your bacon into chunks, and fry in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it’s sizzling, and there’s lots of lovely fat in the pan, add the sliced fennel, and sauté until it’s turned soft. Layer these over the top of the potatoes and smother in the creme fraiche and the grated cheddar.
- Make your crumble topping by adding the butter, chilli powder (if using), grated parmesan and salt & pepper to the flour, and rubbing the mixture between your fingers until it turns sandy and resembles breadcrumbs. Pour this on top of the bacon, fennel and potato mixture.
- Bake at 200 degrees C/Gas Mark 5 for 40 minutes until the crumble has turned crisp and golden.
- Serve immediately. The leftovers can be reheated and make a nice lunch (or breakfast if you’re greedy and don’t fancy a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes).