Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Great Dish - With A Painful Lesson

Good evening everyone! Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary! I'm happy to say that Maggie is feeling much, much better today - she's even back at work and starting to resume her normal day to day functions. While she's not pain-free, she is feeling somewhat 'normal' again and that is a great improvement from 'death warmed up' (her words) earlier in the week.

Even though she's feeling better, we still have to ease back into a normal diet. That means the bland diet has to continue for another week or so - but that doesn't mean the dishes have to be boring. Tonight we're channeling French inspirations in the form of potato galette. Potato galette is a potato based dish (obviously) that resembles a pie. This is a typically complicated dish (as most French dishes) but the fine folks at America's Test Kitchen have found a way to keep the flavor but cut the prep time. Sounds like a win-win to me! Let's get cooking!

The Recipe: Potato Galette
Original Recipe Found In: Cook's Illustrated: March/April 2011 Issue

What You'll Need:

2 1/2 Pounds Russet Potatoes
5 Tablespoons Butter (Melted)
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon Table Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary (Optional)

Begin by preheating the oven to 450 degrees and adjusting the oven rack to the lowest position.

This whole process is a lot easier if you have a Rotato and a mandoline available.  I was able to peel and slice the potatoes in about 15 minutes - much easier than by hand.  When using the mandolin, make sure the thickness is set to 1/8 inch or lower.  Anything thicker will inhibit the potatoes from sticking together.

Once the potatoes are sliced, fill a large bowl with cold water and rinse the potato slices in the bowl.  Move the slices to a kitchen towel and dry them thoroughly.

The reason we wash the potato slices is due to one element:  starch.  As you all know, potatoes are very starchy, however, not all potatoes contain the same amount of starch.  In fact, the level of starch can vary dramatically between two potatoes in the same bag.  What does this all mean for the recipe?  Starch is the component that makes the potato slices stick together.  When the starch levels are not the same, the potatoes don't stick together consistently.  By washing them in cold water, you are removing the starch from the potatoes and by adding corn starch, you create a consistent starch level for all the potato slices, which should result in a dish that sticks together (in a good way.)

In a small bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of the melted butter with the corn starch, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Place the potato slices in a large bowl and pour the butter mixture over them.  Toss by hand until the slices are evenly coated.  Use the remaining tablespoon of butter to oil the bottom of a large oven safe skillet or Dutch oven.

Now you can begin creating the galette.  Choose a large potato slice and place it in the very center of the skillet.  Use the remaining potato slices to overlap the center slice in a circle.  Continue layering until the bottom of the skillet is completely covered.  For better structure, you can repeat this process multiple times - I did two layers of precise laying.

The French approach to this dish is to layer all the potato slices in this way. This is a time consuming and complicated process.  Luckily, we're not French.  Once you have your top layers established, simply add the remaining potato slices in no real order necessary.  Just make sure they are evenly dispersed.  Feel free to add some salt and pepper between layers to boost up the flavor. Also optional, you can add a tablespoon of unmelted butter to the last layer and let that flavor melt down into the potatoes as the dish cooks. If you're looking to trend healthier...avoid this tip!

Place the skillet on medium heat and cook for five minutes. This accomplishes two things, first it fuses the first two layers of the galette together, secondly it creates a beautiful golden brown layer that you will appreciate later.

With a wooden spoon, press down on the potatoes to eliminate any air pockets.  Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, use the wooden spoon to press down on the potatoes again and return the skillet to the oven again for another 20 minutes.  After these 20 minutes, the dish should be done.

However, we're not quite done yet.  The galette is prepared upside down, meaning the first layer you put in the skillet is actually the top of the dish.  This means you'll have to flip the galette before serving.  Place a cutting board on top of the skillet and with one hand on the cutting board and one hand on the skillet, flip the dish until the the galette release.  With any luck, everything will have stuck together (thanks to the corn starch) and you should have a beautiful golden brown galette.  Slice into wedges and enjoy!

The Results:

For such a simple dish, the galette had a lot of flavor.  The potatoes were soft and moist, but the top layer had a nice crunch to it.  The extra touch of rosemary added to the warm country-like flavor.  The hardest part of this dish is the preparation and that's just time consuming.  In reality, a little bit of effort yields a fantastic end result.

The lesson from tonight involves the mandoline.  If you're familiar with the tool, you know it comes with a plastic skewer to grip whatever you're slices while protecting your fingers.  While this does slow you down sometimes, it's there for a reason.  Don't try to speed up the process by foregoing the plastic protector because you'll quickly find out that the mandoline cannot tell the difference between a potato and the tip of your finger.  I learned this the hard way after I sliced a corner of my finger off on the first potato.  Lesson learned (as a result, my finger hurts too much to type tonight's blog, thankfully, my lovely wife is typing up the blog as I speak it to her.)


That's all we have for you this evening.  We're off to Target to buy some heavy duty bandaids.  I'm planning on having another recipe tomorrow, but that could change depending on everyone is feeling.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page and we'll let you know if/when tomorrow goes up.  Until next time,


1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I'm looking to try this for Easter brunch. Your recipe calls for russet potatoes and another recipe (exact same except type of potato) calls for yukon gold. Wondering what your opinion is on the two potatoes. Thank you!