Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Potato Pavé.
Well, I don't give it to you, exactly. Someone gave it to me. I'm sharing it with you, in a journalistic and photographic way.
Well, in a cell phone photographic way, since I did not anticipate the successful results and was not properly prepared to take a well-lighted kitchen shot. I just reached for my trusty iPhone and took a quick one without white lights, my Canon or a tripod.
This all began when my neighbor, Jim, showed up at my door the other day with a chilled, foil-wrapped brick in hand. He told me I was in for a treat and instructed me on the preparation of the potato brick.
I waited until My Favorite Husband returned home from a trip and then pulled two Allen Bros. filets from the freezer - thanks, again, Steve and Lisa - to serve with the potatoes. Or maybe that should be the other way around ... I served the potatoes with the steaks.
As instructed by Jim, I brought up Martha Stewart's website and located her feature of the Thomas Keller recipe for this classic French preparation for Pomme Pavé.
Heavy cream, very thinly sliced potatoes and cubes of butter are layered in a pan and chilled. After chilling, the potato slab is sliced into smaller bricks. The bricks are then placed, very carefully, in a skillet with oil, crushed garlic and fresh thyme leaves and sauteed until crispy brown. The potato brick is then flipped over, careful as you go again, and crisped on the second side.
Voila! Potato Pavé.
Let me assure you that my ease in preparing my potato bricks is due to Jim's careful preparation of Thomas Keller's recipe from his cookbook, The French Laundry Cookbook. The recipe is not complicated, but the success is in the detail. My only contribution / alteration to the process was using light olive oil, rather than the canola oil called for in Keller's recipe. Sorry, but canola oil leaves a weird aftertaste in my mouth.
I was torn between using a cast iron pan or heavy aluminum non-stick. In the end, I chickened out and went with the non-stick, but a well-seasoned cast iron would be my choice next time. I'll also cut them into smaller bricks, perhaps 2-inches square. I'll probably use a mandolin to slice the potatoes too. Jim's knives and knife skills are way better than mine, so the mandolin will give the thin and even slice required.
The potatoes paired perfectly with the Allen Bros. filets. That was my idea, and perfectly executed, as well, I must say. More on that later.
If you are looking for something delicious to prepare for a special occasion, especially for meat and potato lover, I can highly recommend Potato Pavé. I'm not sure Jim delivers everywhere though, so you and Thomas Keller's recipe are on your own. It's a little over six weeks until Valentine's Day, just in case you want time to make a trial run.
Let me also suggest it might be a good idea to prepare them a day ahead, or at least several hours, and keep refrigerated until time to saute. My brick sat in the refrigerator for a couple of days and worked beautifully. The rest is, as they say, easy ... and delicious!