Pommes Anna

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Pommes Anna is the recipe that needs firm-fleshed potatoes and butter only. Potatoes are peeled and sliced very thin. The slices, salted and peppered, are layered into a pan, generously doused with butter, and baked/fried until they form a cake. Then they are turned upside down every ten minutes until the outside is golden and crispy. At the end of the cooking period, the dish is unmoulded and forms a cake 6 to 8 inches in diameter and about 2 inches high. The dish is generally credited with having been created during the time of Napoleon III by the chef Adolphe Dugléré, a pupil of Carême, when Dugléré was head chef at the Café Anglais, the leading Paris restaurant of the 19th century, where he reputedly named the dish for one of the grandes cocottes of the period. There is disagreement about which beauty the dish was named after: the actress Dame Judic (real name: Anna Damiens), or Anna DesLions. A mandoline works well for cutting the potatoes into thin, uniform slices, but if you don’t have it cut the potatoes carefully with a sharp knife.

Ingredients:

750 g old potatoes

salt and black pepper

pommes Anna

Preparation:

Slice the potatoes very thinly, preferably with mandoline. Generously butter the bottom and side of an ovenproof frying pan. Layer the potatoes in the frying pan, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper to taste, and dotting with the butter. Arrange potatoes in the frying pan as soon as they have been sliced; if you put them into water the starch contained in them will bewashed away and they won’t hold together.

Cover the pan tightly with buttered foil and the lid, and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutesor until the base of the potato cake is light golden brown.

Transfer the pan to a preheated oven and cook at 190°C for 30 minutes or until the potato cake is tender.

Invert a warmed serving platter over the frying pan, and turn out the potato cake so that the crisp layer is on the top. Serve at once, cut into wedges.

* If you prefer individual pommes Anna, layer the sliced potatoes in well-buttered individual patty tins. Cook the potatoes in the tophalf of a preheated oven at 220°C for 30 – 35 minutes.