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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pommes de Terre Sautée or Pan Fried Potatoes

These are the potatoes that went with the roast chicken from last night, or part two of freaking fussy French food. The recipe that appears in Mastering the Art of French Cooking describes the superior potatoes you'd get if you were living in France, potatoes that are just the absolute perfect shape and size for dancing around merrily in a pan. We, of course, don't have these potatoes here in the United States. So Julia suggests whittling down a bunch of new potatoes into 2 inch long by 1 inch wide olive-shaped to masquerade as pommes de terre de Hollande.

I was just going to cut my potatoes into cubes and not bother to even peel them. But authenticity got the better of me, so I spent a good amount of time peeling small potatoes, cutting them in two, then carving them down into a new shape.

Pommes de Terre Sautée or Pan Fried Potatoes

2 lbs new potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

1. Cut potatoes into 2" x 1" olive shapes. Dry well with a paper towel.

2. In a skillet with a cover, add butter and oil to skillet to film it by 1/16 inch and set over moderately high heat. When butter is very hot but not turning color, put potatoes into skillet. Leave them for 2 minutes, regulating heat so butter is always hot but not coloring. then shake the skillet back and forth to roll the potatoes and to sear them on another side for 2 minutes. Continue thus for 4 to 5 minutes more until the potatoes are a pale golden color all over, indicating that a seared, protective film has formed over them, so that they will not stick to the pan. Then sprinkle the potatoes with salt and roll them again in the skillet.

3. Lower heat, cover the skillet, and cook the potatoes for about 15 minutes, shaking them every 3 to 4 minutes to prevent their sticking to the skillet, and to insure even coloring. They are done when you can pierce them with a fork.

4. Sprinkle potatoes with minced parsley, chives, fresh tarragon or a mixture of fresh green herbs.

The Verdict: I hate to admit it, but the extra effort was worth it. These potatoes are delicious.

The wood-working skills you employ to shape the potato really does allow for all-over browning; almost like a gigantic homefry. The recipe suggests more butter at the end of cooking but I say don't; you're using plenty to cook them. Also, I didn't have any fresh herbs, so I sprinkled mine with about a 2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence.

These potatoes probably aren't for your average weekday meal side dish. It's too much effort. But if you're planning a go-all-out meal, dig out this recipe. They're definitely impressive.

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