Friday, October 25, 2013

French Food Fight Friday: Potatoes with loose morals and great body

Welcome to French Food Fight Friday (aka 4F), a weekly feature of alliteration and thoughts about food-related French and French-related food.

In this installment we explore the only food I know of that is named after... a prostitute! No fooling. According to the story,  this delectable dish was named after a delectable dish - a 19th century courtesan named Anna Deslions whose -- ahem -- office was located at the Café Anglais in Paris, one of the top restaurants in Paris. The chef, either out of his unrequited love for the beautiful Anna or in gratitude for the business she brought to his restaurant, created this recipe in her honor.

This is perhaps my favorite potato dish, the simplicity of it really bringing out the taste of the potatoes. It's crazy easy to make, yet, sadly, is rarely found in this country. When done properly the interior just melts in your mouth, while the outside potatoes remain crunchy and buttery. It's important to use Yukon potatoes to get that perfect texture and taste. And also not to count calories.

Before we get to the recipe, take a moment to savor the fact that the French word for potatoes is pommes de terre -- apples of the earth. Delightful, isn't it?

Pommes Anna 

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Clarify the butter: Melt it in really small saucepan until it foams. Remove from heat until foam subsides, then skim off and discard white solids that have floated to the top
  3. Slice 4 potatoes very thinly (use a mandolin or V-slicer if you can), about 1/8 inch
  4. Spray a nonstick 8- to 9-inch skillet with vegetable oil, then coat with a little of the clarified butter (the smaller the pan, the higher your stack of potatoes will be, and the higher the better)
  5. Cover bottom of skillet with overlapping layer of potatoes. Season well and drizzle a little of the butter over it
  6. Continue to add layers, drizzling each with butter, until you've used all the potatoes. Top with any remaining butter
  7. Cover pan tightly with foil and simmer over high heat for 90 seconds
  8. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, removing foil after 30.
  9. Put a plate or platter on top and flip, like an upside down cake. The top (formerly the bottom) should be golden brown and crispy. Allow to sit for several minutes before serving.

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