So we are back at home from a hiking adventure here in BC and I am in the mood to cook again after eating out for an entire week in the mountains with varying degrees of success (more on that later). Since I am addicted to Australia Masterchef and was catching up on a few episodes I missed while I was gone I noticed that they often make fondant potatoes that look beautiful on their carefully plated creations. Of course, this is not a new recipe and comes from classic French cooking but I thought it was time I make it even though I wasn’t plating anything special for dinner that day.
I had a bunch of beautiful white skinned potatoes of equal, symmetrical size which you would need for consistency of shape, and went for it. You don’t have to do it this way but I wanted to cut the potatoes into symmetrical cylinders so size and shape are important. There is a certain amount of waste of course when you do this and you can certainly save the potato cutting to add to a soup instead of throwing them out.
Fondant basically means you cook the potatoes slowly with oil, butter and stock. they first get browned in the fats and then finished in the oven with the stock added. the result is golden brown potatoes that are meltingly soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. They are beautiful to look at and delicious, so why not?
To cut the potatoes symmetrically use a round cutter and cut off any skin that may still be attached in some spots. The combination of oil and butter helps to prevent the butter from burning. A few sprigs of fresh thyme are nice with this dish and a few garlic cloves smashed and thrown in are delicious with it, all roasted, sweet and golden.
These potatoes would look great on any plate or served directly from the cast iron skillet in which they were cooked.
Serve them with other vegetables or as you wish.
4 potatoes, waxy type, not starchy (white or red skinned)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Salt and pepper
A bunch of fresh rosemary sprigs.
1/2- 1 cup flavourful chicken stock
To prepare the potato cylinders cut off the top and bottom of each potato, then cut each in half through the middle horizontally.
Lay the round flat side on the cutting surface and using a round cutter of the appropriate size for your potato, push it in and cut a cylinder out of the half potato. Repeat with remaining potatoes and place the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent oxidization (turning brown).
Once all the potatoes are done trim off any skin that may be attached to the potatoes and dry them with paper towels.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet and add the potatoes without crowding them. Roll them in the oil and cook for 5-7 minutes until golden without disturbing them so they stay intact.
Add the smashed garlic as the potatoes cook, as well as the thyme sprigs.
Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper.
Carefully add the stock, just enough to reach a little bit up the sides of the potatoes but not much.
Now you can cover the skillet and finish it on top of the stove or transfer the skillet to a preheated 400F oven and finish the cooking there.
The potatoes will be done with golden and soft and the stock evaporates. Insert a thin knife blade to test for doneness.
Remove from oven and carefully remove them with a flat utensil to keep the symmetrical shape.
Serve with additional fresh thyme.