Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooking Escoffier: Pommes de Terre Duchesse

Beef Bourguignon with a layer of Pommes Duchesse
A few days ago I found my copy of Le Guide Culinaire covered in a light haze of pollen in the extra bedroom. This alerted me two things that I have been doing wrong lately. First, I have't cooked from Escoffier's masterpiece in over a month. That is a problem since I was determined to really get into his work once I got it in the mail. (It wasn't cheap either.) Secondly, I really need to close the windows in this house. Cheaping out on air conditioning is filling my house with pollen and as we all know, allergies don't mix well with pollen. Anyway, after I dusted my book off I leafed through the pages looking for my next Escoffier experience. I decided that cooking something complicated was out of the question, so went with a classic potato recipe that Escoffier uses to compose many of his hearty meat dishes.

Pommes de Terre Duchesse (or Pommes Duchesse) is a relatively simple potato dish that presents nicely in multiple formats. It does take a few more steps to make than your traditional mashed potatoes, but it is worth the extra effort when feeding a crowd of people looking for something a little different. Depending on how you finalize your Pommes Duchesse this on recipe can make anywhere from 6 to 12, or maybe even 20 servings. (Assuming you are making a composed dish and only preparing small amounts of this recipe, you can really make this go far.) Now, I did change some things from Le Guide Culinaire that I didn't agree with, mainly the use of nutmeg and the temperature of the batter before adding the eggs. Other than that, this is all Escoffier.
Piped Pommes Duchesse
Pommes de Terre Duchesse:
2 1/4 lbs potatoes
3 1/2 ounces (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter
6 eggs (4 yolks, 2 whole)

1. Preheat an oven to 375F. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the pieces in a large shallow pan and add enough water to cover the potatoes 3/4 of the way. Generously salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until slightly they are slightly firm.
2. Thoroughly drain the potatoes and place them on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and dry out the potatoes, about 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and slowly melt the butter in a pan over low heat while you process the potatoes.
3. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or fine sieve and mix with the melted butter. Let this mixture cool until only warm to the touch. Once cooled, add the 4 yolks and 1 whole egg to the mixture; mix gently until uniform. Preheat or raise the oven temperature to 425F.
4. Pipe the batter into small shapes and then brush each with a well beaten egg. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes and then serve.

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