French classic: Pommes Anna (potatoes Anna)

September 2, 2016
Pommes Anna is crispy potatoes outside, soft and creamy potatoes inside, this French classic makes a crowd-pleasing side dish. Served hot, warm, or at room temperature, it add s a bit of class to whatever you’re serving. This version happens to be AIP Paleo-friendly, too. Read its colorful history below.
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Ingredients:

3 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick (with the slicer on your food processor, or your mandolin)
6 tablespoons ghee, melted
1/4 cup Safflower oil
Seasonings: kosher salt and grinds of black pepper
1/3 cup fresh, finely-minced chives

Instructions:

Put the potato slices in a large bowl. Toss them with the melted ghee. Pour the safflower into a non-stick, 10-inch-diameter skillet. Swirl the skillet to coat. Arrange four to six of your nicer looking potato slices in an overlapping circle in the center of the skillet. Arrange more of the nicer looking slices in a clockwise, overlapping circle. Extend the layer all the way to the skillet’s edge. Because the nicest looking slices go on the bottom, when inverted, they will end up on the top and be the ones people see. NOTE: Most of all, try to make even 1/8-inch slices because your end product will be all the more stunning.

Sprinkle the first layer with a bit of salt, pepper, and a few of the minced chives. Working counter-clockwise, arrange another overlapping layer of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and some chives. Continue layering the potatoes in alternating circles. Season all but the final layer. You should therefore end up with six to eight layers.

Set the skillet over medium-low heat. When you can hear the oil begins to sizzle, press the potatoes down with a plate to compress them gently onto the bottom of the skillet. Cover the skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, for exactly 10 minutes. Meanwhile, center the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove the lid, and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife or skewer — about 30 minutes. Carefully drain off the extra oil from the pan, using the lid (wear oven mitts!).

Set a carving board or a serving plate or platter over the skillet. Very carefully invert the potato cake onto the platter, tapping the bottom of the skillet to help loosen the potatoes. Let sit for ten minutes or so. Finally, cut the “cake” into equal servings.

Notes:

Most noteworthy is that this savory dish can be served either hot or warm. It’s also delicious at room temperature. Therefore, because it’s so versatile, it will keep well in the fridge for a few days.

A Colorful History

According to renowned food blogger Kevin Lee JacobsPommes Anna was invented in the mid-19th century by chef Adolphe Dugléré, at the famed Café des Anglais in Paris. Dugléré named his creation for Anna Deslions, a courtesan who, over the span of her career, “entertained” 3 kings, 12 emperors, 18 princes, 34 dukes, 2 princesses and an assortment of actresses in the cafe’s private upstairs dining room. And you thought you had a busy schedule.

And from Wikipedia: (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.

Finally, from CooksInfo.com: Anna Potatoes was created by a French chef named Adolf Dugléré, who owned a restaurant called “Café Anglais” in Paris. The dish was named after Anna Deslions, who in the 1800’s was both a society celebrity and an actress. Some suggest it might have been another actress, Anna Judic, that it was named after, but as Deslions held regular gatherings at Dugléré’s café, there seems no reason to doubt that it was her.