I became acquainted with Chef Anne watching Iron Chef on Food Network. She's full of talent and personality. I always enjoy watching her cook because of the way she explains what she's doing and why she's doing it. And she's incredibly entertaining!
I had to take a little break from all the sweetness coming out of my oven lately. I hope you don't mind. I chose a potato recipe for this week's post from an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on Food Network. This is one of the series Chef Anne stars in. I remember watching this episode and being completely in awe of this dish. I remember thinking "I've got to try this". So, I did!
Bear in mind, this was my first try with Pommes Chef Anne. I ran into a little hiccup, but I learned. This dish may not have been as pretty as I was hoping it would be, but it sure was delicious! The next time I make this dish (and yes, there WILL be a next time) there's just one thing I'll do differently.
What went wrong? The potatoes stuck to the bottom of the pan. I must not have used enough olive oil. I'm still resisting buying a non-stick saute pan, so I'll use parchment paper to line my non-non-stick saute pan next time. If that doesn't work, I'll break down and buy a non-stick pan. This potato cake is worth it.
Pommes Chef Anne
3 russet (baking) potatoes, scrubbed clean
salt (kosher is best)
3/4 cup Parmigiano, grated
Preheat oven to 425° F. Coat an 8-inch saute pan with olive oil. Be generous, but not sloppy. And a non-stick pan works best.
Work with just one potato at a time and work quickly, otherwise the potatoes will discolor. Thinly slice the potato; use a mandoline, if you have one. DO NOT put the potato slices in water! You will wash away the starch.
Using the potato slices starting from the center make concentric circles of potatoes. Remember that eventually the bottom will be the top so it is important for the first circles of potatoes to look pretty. Brush each layer with olive oil and every 2nd or 3rd layer sprinkle liberally with grated Parmigiano and salt. After every layer of potatoes press the potatoes so they are very compact. Repeat this process with the remaining 2 potatoes.
Place the pan of potatoes over medium heat and cook until the olive oil begins to sizzle and the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom. Put the pan (uncovered) in the preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Pay very close attention to this next set of instructions!
Remove the pan from the oven and place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Drain the excess oil out the side of the pan. THIS STEP IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!! After the excess oil has been drained, completely flip the pan so the cake is turned out onto the bottom of the lid, then slide the cake off the lid back into the pan so the brown side of the cake is now up and the top becomes the bottom. We see now why draining the excess oil is important- if you attempt this without draining the oil it will drain out on your wrist and burn you.
This really does work! Other than having my potato "cake" stick in a couple of places because I wasn't using a non-stick pan (or parchment paper), it slid out onto the lid and I was able to easily slide it back into the pan to finish baking. Once I ran a knife through the parts that were sticking, that is.
Return the cake to the oven to bake (uncovered) for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Slide the "cake" onto a serving platter, cut into wedges and serve.
Just imagine how pretty this would be on a serving platter if the potatoes hadn't stuck to the bottom of the pan!
Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredient list. This dish has a wonderful texture, is full of flavor and very filling.
One last thought, I was reading comments from others who've tried this dish and many substituted other types of cheese with great success. The most common type of cheese substitute was cheddar.