Potatoes III

by Mark R. Vogel

            This is the final installment of a three-part series on potatoes.  Having already discussed the potato’s history and culinary applications, it’s time to start cooking.  We’ll boil potatoes for potato salad, pan-fry them for potato pancakes, sauté them for home fries and finally bake them for the venerable French classic, Pommes Anna.   

 

MARK’S POTATO SALAD

 

3 lbs. potatoes

2 ¾ cups mayonnaise

3 boiled eggs, chopped

2 boiled eggs, yolks only, chopped

4 celery sticks, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon McCormick lemon-pepper seasoning

2 teaspoons celery salt

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Salt to taste

 

            If you like your potato salad mushier use Idaho potatoes.  If you prefer firm chunks of potato use a waxy potato such as the Red Bliss.  For something in-between use Yukon Golds.  Boil the potatoes, allow them to cool and then mash, slice or chop them to your desired consistency.  I abhor the skins but if you like them by all means include them.  Combine all the ingredients and chill.

 

 

MARK’S POTATO PANCAKES

(Makes about 8 pancakes)

 

2 large Russet or long white potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

2 large shallots, or one small onion, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large egg

2 tablespoons melted butter

Vegetable oil, as needed for cooking

 

            Place the potatoes and shallots in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Transfer the mixture to a fine mesh sieve and push as much of the excess water out as you can with a spatula.  This is critical for the texture and structural integrity of the pancakes.  Stir in the flour, salt and pepper.  Whisk the egg with the butter in a separate bowl and stir into the potato mixture.  The batter should be loose but if for any reason it’s too runny, you can always add a little more flour.

            Heat a 14-inch skillet and add oil to a depth of ¼ inch.  Wait for the oil to become very hot.  With a large serving spoon, dollop portions of the batter into the oil, tapping it with the spoon to flatten it just a little.  The oil should come halfway up the pancake so adjust the thickness accordingly.  You should just be able to fit 8 pancakes about three and one half inches across.  Pan-fry until browned on the first side, flip once and brown the other side.  Drain on paper towels and serve with sour cream, butter, chives or even plain.  They’re delicious all by themselves. 

 

MARK’S HOME FRIES

 

Olive oil, as needed

2 Russet or long white potatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise to make half moons.

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon paprika, more or less to taste

 

            The amount of olive oil is “as needed” but if you want really moist and tasty home fries I would employ a generous amount of oil.  Using a large skillet, get the oil nice and hot and add the potatoes, onion, salt and pepper.  Sauté until the potatoes are softened to your liking.  A few minutes before they’re done mix in the paprika.  Paprika can burn easily and doesn’t need to be cooked for long.   Taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary and serve. 

 

POMMES ANNA

 

            Pronounced “pom” Anna this classic French dish was created by Chef Adolphe Duglere (1805 – 1884).  During the time of the Second French Empire, (1852-1870), governed by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, (Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew), Duglere maintained a famous Parisian restaurant called Café Anglais.  Duglere dedicated his new potato dish to a courtesan by the name of Anna Deslions who frequented his eatery. 

 

2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds Red Bliss potatoes

Salted butter as needed, (at least a half a stick), softened

Salt and white pepper to taste

 

            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the potatoes thoroughly, cutting out all of the eyes.  Slice them on a mandoline no thicker than an eighth of an inch.  Smear a generous amount of butter on a 10-inch, non-stick, oven-proof skillet, completely covering the bottom and sides.  Layer the potatoes in a rosette pattern, placing each slice halfway over the preceding one.  Spread each layer with butter and season with salt and pepper before starting the next.  After completing the final layer, press the potatoes down with a spatula or wooden spoon to help compact them.   Place into the oven for 25 minutes.  Now the tricky part.  Using a high quality oven mitt, remove the skillet from the oven, and loosen the potatoes from the bottom with a spatula and/or by shaking the pan.  Drain any excess butter if need be but reserve it.  Then place a large flat plate on top of the skillet and flip it.  Next, by either tilting the plate, or with the assistance of a large spatula, slide the upside down potatoes back into the skillet.  Pour the excess butter over them and return the skillet to the oven for another 25 minutes or until the top completely browns.  A browned exterior is crucial for the dishes flavor, texture, and visual appeal.  Slide the final “potato pie” out of the skillet and onto a plate and serve. 

 

 

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