Monday, August 17, 2009

Couched Potato

Photo by Cynthia

Several weeks ago I was reading an old Harold McGee article about how pots and pans deliver heat to food and then release the food when we want it to. He made several dozen potato galettes to test the properties of different pans.

I had never made a galette, and a couple of days later as I was figuring out how to incorporate a lone sweet potato into a dish with kingklip filets, I remembered McGee lovingly describing his flat, layered potato cakes cooked to gentle crispiness in his cast-iron skillet, and how he would slide it out of the pan onto an inverted pot lid for flipping back into the skillet.

Thus inspired, I cut paper-thin slices of the sweet potato, layering them - slightly overlapped - in a heated 10" pan with a little grape seed oil and butter. They were topped with salt, pepper, thyme, shaved red onion and sliced mushrooms.

After about ten minutes on medium-high heat, the galette was ready to flip. I, however, was not ready to try flipping; I was afraid of disturbing the mushrooms on top, so I gave it a few minutes under the broiler which worked quite well.

I have since successfully flipped an onion-and-mushroom-topped galette, using the classic technique of sliding the cake onto a pot lid, inverting the pan onto the lid, flipping them over together and removing the lid. I've found, however, that a topping like mushrooms keeps the top potato layer from contacting the pan surface, preventing it from browning correctly. In cases like that, the broiler probably does work best.

Since then I have used regular white potatoes and parsnips. The picture above features Yukon golds. Any root vegetable could work well.

Next, I think I'm going to try beets.