Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Thomas Keller's Potato Pave

If you can't already tell by the contents of my blog, I like food.  But I usually wouldn't go so far as to say that I like like food.

That is, until I met Thomas Keller's Potato Pave.

Potato Pave is one sexy mofo.

As gorgeous to look at as it is delicious to eat, this potato dish is nothing short of dreamy.  You'll want to make out with it.

Here's what you need: 
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes (three 1-pound potatoes if possible)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon softened and 4 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Canola oil
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin-on, lightly crushed
  • Minced fresh chives (I subbed in chiffonaded sage instead, since I was too lazy to go out to the garden for fresh chives)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour cream into a large bowl; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Peel potatoes. Trim all sides of one potato to make a rectangular shape (I forgot to do this, and it was fine). Set a mandoline over bowl of cream and, starting with the flat side of the potato, slice potato lengthwise into very thin slices (alternatively, if you cannot set your mandoline over bowl, slice potatoes, adding slices to cream as you work). Toss potato slices in cream occasionally to keep them from oxidizing. Repeat process with remaining potatoes.

Brush a 10-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch-high baking pan with half of the softened butter. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 5-inch overhang on all sides. Brush parchment paper with remaining softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Trim slices to form an even layer in the bottom of the pan; repeat process to form a second layer. Dot with a few cubes of butter; season with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes and adding butter and seasoning after every two layers until pan is filled. Fold sides of parchment paper over potatoes. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to oven.

Bake until potatoes are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than the size of pan; wrap with aluminum foil. Place foil-wrapped cardboard on top of potatoes and weight down with heavy cans (naturally, I used two bottles of leftover Manischewitz from our seder); let potatoes cool to room temperature. Remove weights and tightly wrap pan. Refrigerate potatoes at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.

To serve, run an offset spatula between the parchment paper and pan to release. Using the parchment paper overhang, carefully lift pave out of pan or invert onto a cutting board. 

Trim sides of pave and cut into 12 equal pieces; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add enough canola oil to coat. When oil is hot, add potatoes, cut-side-down, along with thyme and garlic. Cook, basting with oil, until browned on first side. Carefully turn and brown on opposite side.

Transfer potatoes to a serving platter and arrange browned side up. Place a small piece of butter on each and sprinkle with chives (in my case, fried sage).  Serve.

The pave effect of the potatoes is really beautiful, and the texture of the potatoes is just amazing -- crispy on the outside, tender and creamy on the inside.  Well worth the prep time.

By the way, I think this would be a really impressive and easy side to make for a dinner party.  You can do all the prep before hand, so that the only thing left to do when you're ready to eat is to saute the pave. Your guests will think that you have some fancy French cooking skills.


Sugarpond April 6, 2010 at 9:29 PM  

I saw this in Ad Hoc! It's like a sophisticated version of scalloped potatoes. Your results look delicious..

Mrs. Hot Cocoa April 6, 2010 at 9:34 PM  

@ Sugarpond: Yes, that's exactly what it's from. It seems like every recipe I make from that book involves a whole lot of cream. But all are very delicious!

Brandi April 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

That looks delicious! I've been eyeing Ad Hoc at the book store every time I go and I think you finally convinced me to buy the dang thing... or maybe I can just count on you to be my Julie and Julia? :)

Mrs. Hot Cocoa April 7, 2010 at 1:05 PM  

@ Brandi: LOL. I seem to only pick the high calorie recipes (and I avoid the seemingly difficult ones like the plague). It's a gorgeous book, too, so I say get it!

M and C April 12, 2010 at 5:36 PM  

Oh man, that looks good. Have you tried his fried chicken? AMAZING

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