From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
400 ml (14fl oz) milk
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream
4 garlic cloves, crushed
good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
8 rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers
900 g (2lb) potatoes, cut into wafer-thin slices
butter, for greasing
100 g (4oz) mature cheddar, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lightly dressed mixed green salad, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160C (325F/Gas 3). Pour the milk and cream into a pan and add the garlic and nutmeg. Season to taste and just heat through but do not allow the mixture to boil, then quickly remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Arrange the bacon rashers on a grill rack for cook for about 5 minutes until crisp and lightly golden, turning once. Drain on kitchen paper and when cool enough to handle snip into pieces with a scissors.
Arrange a third of the potatoes in an ovenproof dish, that is about 23cm (9in) x 18cm (7in) and 5cm (2in) deep. Season to taste and scatter over half of the bacon , then add another third of the potatoes in an even layer, season to taste and scatter over the remaining bacon. Arrange the rest of the potatoes on top in an attractive overlapping layer and carefully pour over the milk mixture.
Cover the potato gratin with a piece of foil and sit on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden, then remove the foil. Sprinkle over the Cheddar and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the Cheddar is bubbling and golden brown.
Remove the gratin from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes, then cut into slices and arrange on plates with some salad to serve.