Friday, 24 December 2010


Just a quickie before I head off into the Wild West for a week of he-man, self-deprivation, eating-sticks-and-rocks in the frozen highlands of New Mexico, our most beautiful state. I've pretty much cleaned out the fridge of perishables, but there was this perfect potato in the fruit bowl—welll, not quite too perfect as it was turning green and starting to sprout. As my German grandma would say, "Diese Kartoffel ist noch essbar," and remembering Granny's frugality I decided to have it for dinner instead of throwing it out.

No, I really don't have a German granny. But Karen doesn't have a Jewish one either, and she has Hannukah parties all the same. This is going to be my tribute to both of our imaginary ancestors, with a froggy spin. Pommes Annette is a single-serving variant (okay, I just made this up now) on the classic Pommes Anna—made with one potato, salt, and olive oil. Yeah, I know butter is traditional, but I think olive oil tastes better, and you can throw in a wad of butter at the end for flavor if you absolutely must.

The Jewish angle is that this could be considered a version of Latke—eat it with applesauce if you like—in fact the potato I cooked was a remnant of those I had gotten for latkes during Hannukah. It's also super simple, fun to make, and it's very elegant to look at—just like Pommes Anna.

While the oil is heating in a skillet (preferably cast iron), cut the ends off the potato, peel and slice (a Benriner mandoline is great for this!). Spread out the slices on the cutting board and sprinkle with salt—just one side is fine. After making sure that the oil is sloshed all around the skillet, arrange the slices artfully. I like to start around the outside with the larger pieces, overlapping somewhat—the result is kind of chrysanthemum-like. It's got to be thin, because we're not going to turn it—it's going to cook through just from one side.

That's pretty much it. By the time the tater is fully cooked, there will be a very nice crust on the side that's down. If you're using cast iron, you may need to coax the browned slices off of the metal. [And if the skillet is not properly seasoned, you'll end up with crunchy mashed potatoes!] Flip it over onto a plate and eat.

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