Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The French Sure Do Know Their Way Around A Potato!!

Hello again everyone. Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary. We're on to week two of our cooking adventures (no kitchen fires or major disasters yet, but this project is still young). Tonight it was my turn to tackle a recipe and I decided on another one of Jamie Oliver's creations. Tonight it was Baked French Potatoes.

Recipe: Baked French Potatoes
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What you'll need:

1 1/3 lbs. Potatoes
1 lb. Onions
3 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Cloves of Garlic

First, pour 3 1/2 (28 ounces for those who prefer measurements in ounce form) cups of chicken broth or vegetable stock into a large pot and place it on medium heat. At the same time, place a large frying pan on medium heat (no oil yet - this is important). Next, you will want to clean and peel the potatoes and onions. Finely chop the onions (once again, I used the OXO smart chop AKA my vegetable chopping savior - to save time and a lot of effort) and set aside. Peel the garlic - (Quick tip here. Maggie pointed out a fast was to get the skin off of garlic. Simply place one of the cloves on a cutting board, and take the flat edge of a knife and press down hard until you hear a crack. The skin should pull right off.) and finely chop as well. (OXO smart chop saves the day here as well. Seriously everyone - this may be the best $15 you ever spend).
Naked Taters 

Next, slice your potatoes into smaller sections. I cut mine in about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness, although it doesn't really seem to make that big of a difference in the long run - just cut them to whatever size you desire.

By now, your frying pan should be good and hot. Add a splash of olive oil as well as your onions, garlic and a healthy pinch of parsley. Keep stirring the pan every 30 seconds or so to avoid burning the onions. Continue doing this until all of the onions are a light golden brown color.  ***Key note: The reason you heat the pan BEFORE putting in the oil is twofold- first, if you put the oil in before the pan is good and hot, you will actually burn your oil. It creates a sticky tar like goo on the bottom of the pan. That's not fun to clean up OR eat. Secondly, a hot pan forces the oil to stick to the food, which, in turn, prevents the food from sticking to the pan.***
Browning the onions

Once your onions are nice and golden, begin covering the bottom of a medium sized baking dish with your sliced potatoes. Simply overlap them enough to cover the bottom. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and then a thin layer of onions. Repeat this process until you have used up all of your ingredients (try to end with a layer of potatoes on top). Add pinch of parsley and another touch of salt and pepper to top it all off.
The bottom layer 

Layer of potatoes, onions and seasons 

By now, your broth should be good and boiling. Carefully pour the broth over the potatoes, filling the baking dish until the liquid just covers the top layer of potatoes. Depending on the size of your dish, you may or may not use all of the broth. I've found it's better to have some leftover broth - rather than to overfill the dish. Finally, place two pats of butter on top (Location really doesn't matter, after all it's just going to melt anyway! - I chose slightly off-center for my dish).

Adding the broth (caution: hot)

We had no idea how big a 'pat' of butter was. We went with this size 

Next, you will want to rub a light coating of olive oil on the bottom of some aluminum foil. Place the foil (oiled side down) over the dish and press it on tight. Place the dish into a 400 degree oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.

*** Mishap of the night. About 30 minutes into cooking - I heard a sickening gurgling sound. The sound that can mean only one thing...the dish was boiling over. The broth oozing over the sides of the dish and spilling onto the oven floor (making a slight mess - but most of it was burning off right away.) In the future, I may cut down the chicken broth to 2 1/2 cups, just to prevent spillage. ***

After 45 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and take off the aluminum foil. Press down the potatoes with a spoon or spatula (success here depends on the size of dish you used. We had a very small dish, so there wasn't really room to push the potatoes down). Return the dish to the oven (uncovered) and set the timer for 20 minutes. What you're going for here is a great, golden brown finish. It took me a full 45 minutes to get that finish, but depending on your oven, it may take less time. Just keep an eye on it and allow it to brown up.

Once it's golden brown on top, remove the dish from the oven and take a deep sniff of that aroma. This dish smells absolutely amazing coming right out of the oven! All that's left is for you to enjoy!

The finished dish (complete with spill over burn marks) 

Up close and personal. You can almost SEE the flavor!!

When it was all said and done, I think this dish has to be one of my favorite creations...EVER. It was simply amazing. The potatoes are so soft and tender (which is why size didn't really matter when slicing them at the beginning, they fall apart so easily anyway) - and the flavor is nearly indescribable. It is truly a treat for your taste-buds. The best part is, there is very little effort in the entire dish. All it takes is a little patience (in our case 1.5 hours worth) to have a fantastic meal. This is one recipe we will be making again (I'm thinking it would be great for family gatherings). I hope you all will give this one a try - I cannot say enough positive things about just how delicious the end result is.

That's all we have for you tonight. Thank you for spending some time reading our cooking experiences. Here's hoping you will try the recipe for yourselves. Maggie takes over the kitchen tomorrow - so the blog should be up a little earlier. Until then, thank you for reading!


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