Wish Upon A Dish: November 2011

November 13, 2011

Pommes Anna

I am making a good ole Italian meal of roasted veal chops with roasted potatoes. Not just any potatoes though, The Nudge loves crispy roasted potatoes and now that I have a cast iron pan, I will be making Potatoes Anna (or Pommes Anna).

Pommes Anna was created during the era of Napoleon III and named, as were many culinary triumphs in those days, after one of the grandes cocottes of the period. Whether it was an Anna Deslions, an Anna Judic, or simply Anna Untel, she has also immortalized the special double baking dish itself, la cocotte a pommes Anna, which is still made and which you can still buy at a fancy price.

This simple recipe is all in the preparation and presentation, and the use of very, very thinly sliced potatoes, that's the key to success. Since the dish is inverted, it is important that the first layer of potatoes be attractively arranged. Select perfect slices, and overlap them carefully. Keep in mind the final shape makes the presentation. A watercress or parsley garnish adds color. Serve warm and cut into wedges, like a cake or quiche.

Use very waxy potatoes like New potatoes and Yukon Golds. A mandolin is a MUST HAVE.

I slightly adjust the recipe (which really is NO recipe) by adding grated Parmesan to each layer after brushing with butter. It's all about the technique, that's the recipe.

Potatoes Anna
Serves 2

* 2 medium red new potatoes (same size), sliced thinly
* salt & pepper
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* Romano cheese, grated

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
2. Put the potato slices in a colander and rinse under running water to get rid of the starch. Place on a cloth in a single layer and pat dry.
3. Generously grease the base of an ovenproof pan or baking dish with melted butter.
4. Arrange the potato slices in the pan in overlapping circles, brushing butter over each layer and seasoning as you go.
5. Cover with grease proof paper or a lid. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour. Test with a skewer to see if the potatoes are done.

Cook this in a cast-iron, heavy-bottomed, stubby-handled frying pan that goes in the oven. Traditionally it should be lidded - mine isn't, so I used a piece of parchment paper and a saucepan lid.