“…created during the era of Napoleon III, and named, as were so many culinary triumphs in those days, after one of the grandes cocottes of the period.”
Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking
As Julia Child writes Pommes Anna is a dish named after a French courtesan in the time of Napoleon III – there are several Anne-named candidates and I have scoured the internet for a definitive steer on which, but even my Vitaux and France’s Dictionaire du Gastronome confirms it is still contended. What is for sure is that the inventor of the dish was Adolphe Dugléré, the chef at the time at the Café anglais.
This looks rather impressive but it isn’t difficult. If you don’t have a smallish, round frying pan with a removable handle I recommend getting one – useful also for tarte Tatin and a whole host of other things. Sometimes it’s a bit tricky getting the potato cake out all in one piece in which case it doesn’t look so great – but it still tastes excellent! It’s brown and crisp on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside.
The potatoes to use for this dish are waxy ones – Desirée, Yukon Gold, red or purple fingerlings….Russet… Go here for a whole list.
And it goes rather well with something peppery such as watercress or rocket.
My mother’s version of Pommes Anna uses dripping instead of butter. She then instructs, “invert on a hot silver dish, and sprinkle chopped parsley on top”.
For three or four people (bear in mind this won’t work for large numbers – the size of the pan becomes too cumbersome).
- 650g/1½ lbs waxy salad potatoes , peeled and thinly sliced (the thinner you slice them the more successful, together and ‘cake like’ the final dish will be.
- 100g/4 oz butter – melted
- Smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
- Preheat the oven to 210°C and melt the butter.
- Put the sliced potatoes in a colander and rinse thoroughly to get the starch out.
- Pat dry with a clean tea towel.
- Grease the pan well – if you don’t the potatoes will stick
- Arrange the potato slices in overlapping circles, to make the first layer in the pan
- Brush with melted butter, season and then put down the next layer… and so on
- Put the pan on the hob for a couple of minutes to brown the bottom layer of potatoes
- Cover with foil or a lid, weight it with something, and put in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Check to ensure the potatoes are done – they often take a bit longer – put them in for another ten minutes or so if they need it.
- Put a warmed plate over the pan and turn over – hopefully it will all come out in one ‘cake’
- Then you can slice it like a cake and serve out.