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Friday, September 23, 2011

Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère

Recently, I discovered a new cooking show I enjoy immensely. It's French Food at Home with Laura Calder and was originally produced by Food Network Canada. It's now made its way to the Cooking Channel here in America.

I've really enjoyed Calder's take on French cuisine and particularly her use of rather simple but delicious dishes rather than the more intimidating and overly involved ones normally presented (Sorry, Julia.)Additionally, Calder has an enjoyable style that keeps her explanations on track so her audience isn't confused. In addition, the music on the show by an Ontario musician, Mike O'Neill is quirky and fun. I recently tried to find his music online because I thought it would be perfect to put on when cooking. Alas, Mr. O'Neill created the music specifically for the series and has never released it, despite huge numbers of foodies begging for an album of his quasi-French Jazz sound.



This recipe was recently featured on the show. Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère (literally "Potatoes from the Bakery" or Bakery Style Potatoes) is actually a very simple recipe that packs a lot of taste punch. This is one of those French cafe classics that you can prep in no time, pop in the oven to cook, and forget for a couple hours. It's baked rather low and slow. You will find versions that ramp up the heat to ungodly temperatures and zap it in minutes! I think that high heat method kills the dish because you want the flavors in this to meld together and the potatoes to become soft in the centers and underneath but crisp on the top and edges. Zapping it at 450 or 500 degrees defeats that purpose and you'll end up with a super crispy top that is too brown.

Michael really enjoyed this simple French classic and since it's rather easy to do we'll be revisiting it often for supper.

I made only a couple slight changes to the recipe presented on the show. For one, I added leeks to the onions for a bit more depth of flavor. I like the subtle onion flavor of leeks against the more prominent onion flavor. I also used Yukon Gold potatoes which have the most wonderful creamy texture when cooked. I happen to like Rosemary with potatoes so used that instead of thyme (or herbes de Provence). In France this is sometimes served with a light cheese topping. I chose Parmesan to top the dish, but you can use Swiss or other cheeses that you enjoy - or leave the cheese out entirely.


: Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère
: A French Cafe classic of potatoes, onions, and cheese in a casserole.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 cups Chicken stock (or beef stock)
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Wash and thinly slice onions, leeks, and potatoes.
  3. In large skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Gently saute the onions and leeks until they are translucent and just beginning to brown. Remove from heat.
  4. In casserole dish, spread a layer of onions mixture and top with layer of potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Repeat with second layer of onion mixture and more potatoes. Sprinkle top with remaining thyme and a little salt and pepper. Slice remaining butter and drop pats on top of casserole. Pour chicken stock into casserole pan and cover with foil.
  5. Place casserole in preheated oven and bake for 2-3 hours until liquid has been absorbed or cooked off and potatoes are moist and tender. Uncover for last hour of cooking for a crisper edges on the potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese if using during last 20-30 minutes of cooking.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 4 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: French


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