Wednesday, 27 April 2011

What to do when you're buried in potatoes: make Pommes Anna

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I was never a big potato eater.  My mom is the kind of health-conscious, California cook who generally prefers green veggies to root ones.  We had carrots, but usually raw as a healthy snack, and we had baked potatoes sometimes, with nonfat cottage cheese (tastier than it sounds), but otherwise they were pretty much eschewed as bland, unnecessary carbs.  So of course I ordered buttery roasted or mashed potatoes in restaurants whenever I had the chance.

But once I was out from under her healthy thumb I found I wasn't that interested in potatoes after all.  I really did genuinely like green vegetables!  It was pretty shocking.

Then I moved to England.  And in England, they love their potatoes.  Roasted, especially, but also mashed, smashed, and in jacket form (baked, with stuff in them – cheese and beans if you're lucky, prawn cocktail or tuna salad if you're not).  And of course we get them every week in our veg box, which was exciting at first, since it presented a challenge, but now we've just got spuds piling up and coming out our ears (or is that corn?)!

Luckily, Abel&Cole have a very helpful website with lots of ideas for how to cook the veggies they send.  And their recipe for Pommes Anna (appropriate, I thought) came to the rescue one night when I felt completely overwhelmed by these weird carbohydrates I wasn't used to cooking.  Ours came out a bit oily, so I've lowered the measurement in the recipe below, but other than that they were delicious!  I think I ate almost the whole pan by myself, while the bf wasn't looking...

Pommes Anna:
     from Abel&Cole

You'll need:
     4 potatoes, washed but not peeled
     1/4 cup olive oil
     1 tbsp fresh thyme or finely chopped rosemary
     Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Brush a small baking dish with oil. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and herbs.

Use a mandolin (a peeler or knife will work in a pinch) to slice the potato as thin as you can.

Make a slightly overlapping layer with the potatoes. Drizzle over a bit of oil. Scatter a pinch of salt, pepper and herbs over. Repeat till you finish the spuds or it's nearly to the top of the pan. Press it down. Cover with foil or greaseproof paper. 

Bake for 30 mins, or till the potatoes are soft.  Uncover and cook for another 15-20 mins, till the top is golden. 

Serve straight from the pan or flip the potato cake onto a dish and cut into wedges like a quiche.

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