Gerrit likes to remind me all the time how lucky he is because a) I love to watch football (ok…mostly Auburn football, but I joined a pick’em with Gerrit’s family this year–of which I, ahem, won last week–and now I care about all these games I didn’t before…”no, no! we have to stay up and watch Hawaii because I picked them to win!”) and b) I love steak. Seriously. I love steak. Whenever I used to get to request dinner for whatever special occasion, it was always always steak. And my dad is pretty much a grill master.
One time in high school I requested, of course, steak for my birthday dinner, and my dad decided he was going to buy a big hunk of steak and age it in our refrigerator. That slab of meat sat in the bottom of our refrigerator wrapped in cheesecloth for about a month, and when the process was done, it was probably one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life. You could cut it with a fork. And my mother and I have decided that it’s pretty much pointless to order steaks in restaurants, even in the best steakhouses, because they are rarely as good as my father’s. (Except Taste of Texas, where we went for Gerrit’s birthday this year. Those steaks were amazing.)
Unfortunately, in our apartment we can’t have a grill. But this weekend I made steaks on top of the stove, cooked in butter (rare how we like them) and they were pretty delicious. And these potatoes are what I made to go with them.
Pommes Anna is a classic French dish, basically a cake made out of potato slices. I used Anne Burrell’s recipe, which is punched up with a bit of Parmesan cheese, and I punched it up a bit more with some cheddar cheese because using only Parmesan is just a bit too…dainty. I love that this dish has such a fancy look to it, and yet it is not terribly complicated. The bottom and top layers of potatoes get crispy, while the inside is soft and cheesy. It is hearty enough to serve next to steak, as we had it, but I also think delicate enough that it could be presented at a luncheon. But I would always always rather have the steak.
Cheesy Pommes Anna
adapted from Anne Burrell
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
2-3 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Pour melted butter and olive oil in two small separate bowls. Brush a 8-inch, oven-proof, non-stick saute pan with olive oil.
3. Working with one potato at a time, slice it very thinly on the mandolin. In fact, only slice as much potato at a time as you will need for a couple of layers (if you let the potato slices sit too long on the cutting board, they will begin to discolor). Place one potato slice in the middle of the saute pan, and then place more potato slices around it to create concentric circles (your bottom will eventually be your top, so make sure the first layer looks good). Brush the layer with either olive oil or melted butter. Continue to layer and brush potatoes, switching between the oil and melted butter. After every 2 or 3 layers, sprinkle liberally with salt and a combination of the cheeses. After every layer press down on the potatoes so that they are compact. Continue the process with the rest of the potato(s) until your cake is built.*
4. Place the saute pan over medium heat and cook the potatoes until the bottom is sizzling and beginning to turn brown, about 5-10 minutes. Then put the pan into the oven, baking for 20-25 minutes.
5. Remove the potatoes from the oven in order to flip them. Before you flip the potatoes, place a tight fitting lid over the saute pan and tip the pan to drain out the excess oil (this will help you not to burn yourself!). Flip the pan so that the cake is now resting on the lid, and then slide the cake back into the pan so that what was once your top is now the bottom.
6. Put the potatoes back into the oven, baking for 10-15 more minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from oven and cut into wedges to serve.
*How many potatoes you use really just depends on the size of your potatoes. I had 3 potatoes, but decided that I only needed 2 of them. I built the cake until it filled my pan about 3/4 of the way.