Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crisp Potato Cake (Galette de Pomme de Terre)

As part of my Paris "Try the World" box, I received a jar of persillade as well as some large grain salt. This was not a term in cooking that I was familiar with, but I looked at the ingredients on the jar and set it aside figuring I'd use it in a meat or fish dish in the future. It includes parsley, onion, garlic, and salt and they are all dried little bits. Little did I know that I would have a chance to use this item with a potato dish far sooner than expected.

Aside from the persillade, this is actually a dish with fairly conventional ingredients. It's also simple, but creates a version of a potato dish that isn't common due to the effort that goes into slicing potatoes super thing, slow cooking the "cake," and carefully flipping it over. The persillade merely adds some flavor depth at the end which definitely raises the bar on this. The real star is the textural complexity of the crispy potatoes on the outside and tender ones on the inside. The devil is in the details in getting this right.

The instructions for this potato cake - which sounds so much more impressive when you call it by its French name of Galette de Pomme de Terre - makes it clear that overly starchy or wet potatoes will create issues for the dish so I decided to do what I could to avoid either of these interfering with a good result. I sliced the potatoes to 1.5 mm on a mandolin and then rinsed them three times then let them soak in cold water in the refrigerator for over five hours. This hydrated the potatoes and allowed a lot of the external starch to wash off. When I was ready to make the dish, I laid out a kitchen towel and laid the potatoes out on it in a single layer then put another towel on top and allowed them to dry between them for about a half hour. 

Other than that extra care, I made a persillade by putting a tablespoon of oil into a small glass dish and a half teaspoon of my dry persillade mix in it and heating it in the microwave. I let that sit around a bit as well to allow the flavors to mix a bit and soften up the herbs. This was what I planned to drizzle on the finished galette.

Mine looked like this:

My photo isn't great-looking because it was taken at night with a flash, but this was a really tasty dish. The textural elements were an absolute delight. My husband likened it to a potato chip on the outside. The complexity the olive oil and herb drizzle gave it was just enough to liven it up a bit. 

I not only will make this again, but will make it two days in a row because it was such a hit. It's also really not that hard to do. You just have to be patient and a little careful. It was far easier to flip over than I expected and cooked faster than I anticipated. I did use a non-stick pan, however, because I don't have a cast iron pan at this time and I don't trust my stainless steel not to create a problem. I don't think it suffered any for the choice and it certainly did not stick despite the fact that I forgot to intermittently shake it to stop it from sticking.

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