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Walker provides steps on how to prepare fondant potatoes

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Aug 03, 2017

(Aug. 4, 2017) Weekly trips to fashionable supermarkets tickle my culinary fancy into a frenzy of endless choices. If only a glass of Pinot Grigio could accompany me as I stroll the aisles of this foodie paradise.

Perfectly marbled ribeye steaks, gorgeous white rockfish, majestic asparagus, baby bok choy, golden beets, fragrant pineapples and tender tarragon are just a few samplings that crescendos me to a state of whimsical desire.

The route of infatuation and the bombardment of possibilities play havoc on my indecisive state. I cannot keep my hands to myself; self-control is a thing of the past. Some might not understand my passionate ways but public opinion has never thwarted my inner most thoughts. These delectable babies are there for the taking and I plan to indulge to the fullest degree.

Do not be fooled by food items that are not as exquisite and less fortunate. The potato, despite its imperfections and hideous spuds, are the source for many marvelous dishes. The thought of creamy mashed potatoes, crisp hash browns and fantastic French fries kick my salivary glands into high gear and sets the tone for today’s discussion.

Fondant potatoes or pommes fondant is a method of preparing potatoes that traditionally involves cutting them into cylinders, browning the ends, and then slowly roasting them. Contrast in texture is the key to this dish; crispy ends encase a delectable, creamy center.

The first step is to determine the type of potato that is best for this particular dish; Idaho or russet potatoes will create a better crust than Yukon Gold or red skin potatoes. The shape of the potato must also be considered, the cut should give the largest surface area for crisping.

Fondant potatoes are not a dish where you can skimp on the fat; fat is basically its raison d’etre. Butter, duck fat and olive oil are the most popular choices. It must be noted that clarified butter gives a more refined result than regular butter; the milk solids have been removed and render a more buttery flavor. Following are instructions on how to make clarified butter, the choice is up to the individual chef.

Place the butter in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to high to reach a boil, then immediately decrease the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the butter reaches 260 degrees.

Strain the butter through four layers of cheesecloth. Cool completely before refrigerating in an airtight container. Clarified butter can be refrigerated for six months and frozen up to a year.

Potatoes require something in the way of liquid to achieve the creamy interior that fondant potatoes are so famous for. Stock, more specifically chicken, is preferred, but vegetable stock is certainly acceptable. Sage, thyme, rosemary and garlic add depth to the dish; however, some chefs prefer to keep the flavor profile purely potato.

The French reign supreme when it comes to fondant potatoes. Uniform shapes of potatoes are browned very slowly in butter; then stock is repeatedly added in small amounts until they are glazed and full of flavor (the same philosophy behind making risotto). There is no question this cooking process yields the best fondant potatoes but it is very time consuming.

If you are interested in learning the specifics, there are many videos on YouTube explaining the art of classic fondant potatoes. In addition, the visual presentation allows one to see just how enticing these potatoes can be. If you are a potato fan, I highly recommend them.

Generally speaking, Americans have a tendency to rush this intricate cooking process. Following is a simple fondant potato recipe that will coincide with busy schedules. The beauty of fondant potatoes is that they pair wonderfully with the most modest and extravagant dishes. Fondant potatoes are mouth watering perfection in every bite and can be enjoyed year round. Enjoy!

Fondant Potatoes

Ingredients

4 russet potatoes

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup canola oil

4 cups chicken stock

4 teaspoons duck fat (optional)

2 sticks unsalted butter

8 cloves garlic

4 sprigs fresh sage

4 sprigs rosemary

6 sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon Herbs de Province

 

1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 2-inch cylinder shapes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add canola oil. Sear the potatoes in the hot pan on both sides until a deep, golden crust develops.

3. Add the duck fat (optional) and the stock until it just covers the potatoes; then add butter, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and Herbs de Province. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are golden and tender, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the potato. Keep the potatoes in the cooking liquid until ready to serve.

4. When plating the potatoes - add a spoonful of the cooked butter on the potatoes with a light dusting of kosher salt.

*Rougie duck fat can be purchased on Amazon (11.2 ounces for $18.69).

 

Secret Ingredient - Surprise. “Surprise your doubts with action.”

— Daniel La Porte

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