Serves: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted or clarified (page 323)
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Procedures:Nothing more than thinly sliced potatoes slowly cooked in butter, pommes Anna is both simple and sophisticated.
- Place one oven rack in the lowest position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F .
- Using a mandoline, a handheld slicer, or a food processor, slice the potatoes into rounds ⅛ inch thick. (There will be approximately 8 cups of sliced potatoes.) Place the slices in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and then drain well in a colander. Spread the slices on two kitchen towels and pat them dry with another towel.
- Brush the bottom and sides of the smaller and deeper half (bottom) of a 9½-inch pommes Anna pan with a generous film of the butter. Butter only the bottom of the larger half (top), which is the lid. If using an ovenproof skillet instead, butter both the sides and bottom of the pan, as well as one side of a sheet of aluminum foil cut large enough to cover the top of the skillet.
- Heat the bottom of the pommes Anna pan or the skillet over low heat. When the pan is hot enough for a potato slice to sizzle on contact, quickly arrange a layer of potato slices in concentric circles to cover the bottom of the pan or skillet. The slices should overlap slightly. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the butter and brush to distribute it evenly on the surface of the potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. With the pan or skillet still on the heat, repeat with additional layers, adding about 2 tablespoons of the butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to each layer, slightly mounding the slices in the center until you have used all of the potatoes, ending with a layer of potatoes and butter on top.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook 10 minutes, occasionally press down on the potatoes with a large spatula. Cover the pan with the buttered lid or, if using the skillet, the foil, buttered side down, and press a flat ovenproof lid on top of the foil to weight the potatoes. Transfer the pan or skillet to the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the top is golden.
- Remove from the oven and let stand undisturbed for 10 minutes. Run a thin, nonmetal spatula around the edges to loosen the potatoes. If using the pommes Anna pan, place the top back on the pan, invert the pans, and lift off the smaller pan. If using a skillet, place an inverted platter over the skillet, invert the skillet and platter, and lift off the skillet. If some of the potatoes have stuck to the pan or skillet, simply use a spatula to scoop them out and push them back into place.
- Cut into wedges with a knife and serve with a spatula. Alternatively, the potatoes can be served directly from the pan, using a nonmetal spoon. Serve at once.