Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pommes Anna ... A Simple French Gratin Potato Cake

Pin It This week, every food blog is honoring Julia Child with posts of several of her recipes and reviews of the film Julie and Julia which is being released this Friday. With that in mind, I thought I would post an old favorite which I haven't made in years.

Browsing through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2; I found this historical note about Pommes Anna: "It 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 about 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. It is best cooked in a copper or cast iron skillet. If you don't have a skillet which is ovenproof, use a souffle dish. Keep in mind the final shape makes the presentation. Serve warm and cut into wedges, like a cake or quiche.

Potatoes Anna goes beautifully with roasts and grilled meats.


Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 cloves garlic mashed
Salt & Pepper


Directions

Peel the potatoes and, using a food processor fitted with the slicing blade or a mandoline, slice them very thin, transferring them as they are sliced to a large bowl of cold water. Drain the slices and pat them dry between paper towels.

Melt the butter in a small pan together with the mashed garlic. Let sit for about 5 minutes for the butter to absorb the garlic flavor. Remove the garlic and mince.

Generously brush the bottom and side of a 9 inch heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick ( I use my black iron skillet) with some of the butter and in the skillet arrange the slices, overlapping them slightly, in layers, brushing each layer with some of the remaining butter and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Also sprinkle some of the minced garlic around the layers.

Cover the layered potato slices with a buttered round foil, tamp down the assembled potato cake firmly, and bake it in the middle of a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake the potato cake for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the slices are tender and golden. Invert the potato cake onto a cutting board and cut it into 8 wedges.

You can also use a souffle dish instead of a skillet.

Pommes Anna on Foodista

3 comments:

  1. Hooray, a "new" potato recipe for my Easter dinner. I've been searching for something beyond potato salad or au gratin, and this is perfect, thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

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