Thursday, March 10, 2011

Potatoes Anna puts the taste of
spuds in a starring role

I love it when I the first recipe I try out from a new cookbook works like a charm.
   It makes me happy I invested the money in the book, and revs me up to try more recipes from it.
   I recently bought Laura Calder’s French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating.
   I settled on Potatoes Anna (click for the recipe) as the first to try, and my husband and I made it together. (It is called Pommes Anna in the book.)
   It was amazingly good.
   I’ve never had a potato dish before in which the star was the taste of the potato itself, rather than flourishes such as cheese or cream.
   The earthiness of the potatoes shone through brilliantly and made me appreciate the existence of spuds even more.
   Thanks to the thin slicing of the potatoes, the dish bakes to a lovely tenderness that doesn’t slide apart when you cut it while eating. In fact, Potatoes Anna can be sliced into neat squares when serving.
   The recipe I’ve linked to above on the Food Network Canada website says to use Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, but the cookbook only said Yukon Gold, so that is what we used.
   My husband used a V-slicer to thinly slice the potatoes. A mandoline would also work well.
   Potatoes Anna was very easy to make.
   An eight-inch square baking pan is lined with parchment paper, and the bottom and sides are brushed with butter.
   Peeled and sliced potatoes are tossed in a large bowl with heavy cream (I used whipping cream), and are left to soak (linked-to recipe doesn’t suggest a time, but the cookbook said 10 minutes.)
   The potatoes are overlapped and layered in the pan, with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme and rosemary scattered in between each layer.
   Another sheet of buttered parchment paper is placed butter side down on the potatoes, and a heavy dish is put on top to weigh it down.
   The potatoes are baked until tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hours (we cooked it for an hour and 15 minutes.)
   The potatoes can be scooped out of the pan to serve immediately after it is taken out of the oven, or cooled for about five minutes to cut into squares.
   The recipe I linked to above says to turn the potatoes out, but my husband cut them in the pan and it worked fine.
   Now I’ll go back to French Taste to try more winning recipes.

French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating at

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