Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boulangerie Potatoes

I love these, less heart-stopping than 'dauphanoise' but still pretty damn good.

Apparently the name comes from the tradition of housewives in France of sticking a pot of these in the baker's ovens after the morning baking had been finished. The residual heat would cook these in time for dinner.

You will need:

675g potatoes
200ml Good quality, home made chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 large onion, cut into very thin slices

And then you need to:

In a heavy casserole dish smear a generous amount of butter on the bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with half of the thinly sliced onion rings (this stops the potatoes from sticking).

Peel and then slice the potatoes very thinly. The best thing to use is a mandolin if you have one, but please be careful, these things have chopped off more fingertips than anyother kitchen implement!

Layer the thinly sliced peeled potato on top of the onions. When you have layered half the potatoes generously sprinkle chopped garlic, chopped onion, salt and pepper and then layer the next half of the sliced potatoes. If, heaven forbid, you are using stock cubes, don't add any more salt. Make sure the top layer is all neat and has lovely overlapping slices.

Once finished again add garlic, onion, salt and pepper to the top. Grate gruyere cheese all over the top (not traditional I know but I like it), add 200ml of very hot good quality chicken stock. The stock should come about halfway up the layered potatoes. It is imperative you use very good quality stock here, it is really worth making your own. Dot a couple of small knobs of butter on top.

Place lid on top, or cover tightly with foil, then cook in 375F oven for 75-90 mins. Don't underestimate the time that these take to cook, it usually ends up being longer than you think so make sure they are in the oven with lots of time to spare just in case. At the end the potatoes should be all soft and all of the stock absorbed. Some people like to take the lid or foil off for the last 20-30mins or so to make the top all brown and crunchy. Personally I don't but its up to you!

There are a couple of other options to consider:

Use a mix of normal potatoes and the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and do alternate layers. It looks wonderful. The sweet potatoes will cook much faster than ordinary and so might go a bit mushy but the colour contrast is rather wonderful.

Substitute sliced leeks for the onions (or use both)

Very thinly sliced fennel could also be used if you are serving the dish with fish.

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