Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meat and Potatoes - Pommes de Terre a la Boulangere

Do you ever have the hankerin' for the delectably meaty flavored potatoes that usually accompany a Yankee Pot Roast?  Yeah, I like 'em a lot.  I don't always have 4 lbs of roast lying around though.  Wait, I NEVER have a 4 lb roast lying around, because it would take me a 2 weeks to eat that much beef.  But I really love the potatoes that have been cooked with the roasted meat juices.   HEAVENLY!

Luckily, I have a solution... or rather, the French have a solution. (and no, they didn't steal the idea from the Italians either.  At least, I don't think they did)  ;)

Pommes de Terre a la Boulangere (bool-ahn-ZHAIR) or Potatoes from the Bakery

I like to think that it was inspired by the roast.  You see, "back in the day" people didn't have an oven in their house.  Even if you DID have an oven, something like a roast (cooked low and slow) simply used too much wood fuel to make at home.  That is, unless your home doubled as the town sauna.  So, the villagers turned to the town baker and his/her huge oven.  All the women of the village would prep their roasts by laying them on beds of potatoes and onions.  When the town baker was done baking his bread for the day, the roasts were placed in the large oven as it was cooling.  While the roast was hangin' out and soaking up the lowering heat of the baker's oven, the potatoes were busy soaking up all the luscious beef drippings.   Thus the basic concept of "Potatoes from the Bakery" was born.

So how do you make beefy roasty toasty potatoes without roasting a roast?  All you really need is some beef stock, caramelized onions and an oven. I think it's pretty safe to say that we all have ovens in our homes and no one is going to have to make a trip to the local bakery.  One other thing you are going to need is time.  It takes time to caramelize onions and it takes time to bake potatoes this way...  At least an hour, usually a little longer.  But I think it's well worth the effort.

Pomme de Terre a la Boulangere 

1 rasher (slice) of Bacon, julienne
2 TB Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced thin (I prefer Sweet onions for this)
1 large Shallot, sliced
1 Star Anise
2 lbs White Potatoes, sliced thin (Cause the skins are tender and I prefer not to peel)
Thyme (or Herbs de Provence)
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups Beef Stock
2 TB Butter for dotting

Heat Olive oil in a saute pan over medium flame, then add the bacon and saute until the fat renders out and the bacon is crisp.

Move the now crispy bacon to a paper towel to drain.

Place the saute pan back on the flame and add the Onion and Shallots.

Saute until tender, then reduce the flame to low and add the Star anise. (it makes the onions more meaty tasting)

Continue cooking the onions down until they are deep brown in color and almost jammy looking.
(this tends to take at least 15-20 minutes, so go ahead and eat the bacon bits to keep up your strength)
Remove the pan from the heat and remove the Star Anise.

Add several branches worth of Thyme Leaves and allow the onions to cool slightly while you.....

Butter a baking dish, set it aside and begin preheating the oven to 350 F (175 C) Degrees.

Slice the potatoes (or use a mandolin).

Set aside some of the "prettiest" slices for the top layer (about 8 oz of them)

Place 1/2 of the remaining potatoes in the baking dish and level them out. (you don't have to do any fancy overlapping yet)

Spread 1/2 of the caramelized onion/shallot mixture over the top.

Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper.

Scatter the other 1/2 of the potatoes over the top. (again, no fancy overlapping, yet)

Spread the potatoes with the remaining caramelized onions and more Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

NOW you get to do the fancy overlapping with the reserved potato slices.

Season with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper.

Then, since I don't think there is any such thing as "too much thyme" when it comes to potatoes, add some more thyme leaves.

Carefully pour the Beef stock over the potatoes.

You see the stock peeking out from underneath the potatoes around the edges.

Dot with Butter. (I love "dotting" things with butter)

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake an additional 30-45 minutes.

Until golden brown and delicious.

Crispy on top, soft and unctuous umami-ness underneath. 


1 comment:

Patti T. said...

Oh my goodness, does that ever look good. We went to our butcher yesterday and will be having the beef roast with our potatoes and carrots. I can hardly wait. After reading this I will definitely be adding some thyme, don't know why I didn't think of it before, I add it when I am making French Onion Soup?