This is our interpretation of the French classic Pommes Anna. We kicked it up a notch with the addition of truffle Pecorino for an elegant cheesy twist. Named after a mid-19th-century Parisian beauty, this crispy, buttery potato cake with a creamy center is special occasion fare. It’s a marvel still, every time we make this dish, to recognize how the humble potato — the misshapen, dull brown dirty lump — can become this opulent, glistening, colossally elegant beauty with nothing more than attentive care. Slice the potatoes with a mandoline or the thinnest slicing attachment of a food processor. The starch in the potatoes holds the cake together, so do not rinse the slices. The dish can be made ahead and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes which makes it a perfect for the holidays or any other special dinner occasion.
A special double baking dish made of copper called la cocotte à pommes Anna is still manufactured in France for the cooking of this dish. It consists of upper and lower halves which fit into each other so that the whole vessel with its contents can be inverted during cooking, similar to an omelet pan which can be used.
- 2½ pounds (about 3) russet potatoes
- 4-6 tablespoons (60-90ml) clarified butter
- ¾ cups (2½ oz or 75g) Pecorino al Tartufo a.k.a truffle Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated (See Note)
- Flaky sea salt such as Maldon Salt
- Preheat oven to 425℉ (220℃)
- Slice the potatoes ⅛ inch (5mm) with a mandoline or the thinnest slicing attachment of a food processor. (DO NOT put the potatoes in water as I mentioned before, cause it will wash off the starch- which will prevent the cake from binding. Work quickly to prevent the potatoes from turning brown.
- Coat the bottom of an 8 inch ovenproof, nonstick sauté pan with clarified butter. Starting in the center of pan, lay the potato slices in a concentric circles. (Make sure it looks pretty because when you flip it out of the pan you bottom will become your top. Brush the layer of potatoes with clarified butter and add another layer of potatoes. Brush with clarified butter and sprinkle with Pecorino cheese or Parmesan. Brush each layer the clarified butter and liberally sprinkle every 2nd layer with cheese and salt, and after each layer firmly push down on the potatoes to compact them.
- Place the pan over high heat until butter in pan sizzles , 2 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer to oven; bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven. Run a small spatula around edges of potatoes; slide large spatula underneath potatoes to loosen. Place a lid on the top, and tip the pan to drain off any excess oil. (This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT when you remove the “cake” from the pan, you don’t want the hot oil run out and burn you.) Carefully invert onto a plate or cutting board, and cut into wedges.