Sometimes the simplest dishes elicit the most praise. Your 30 ingredient, three day prep, and 8 pots used magnum opus goes uncommented on, while some slap dash, last minute addition receives choruses of accolades. Pomme darphin is a dish that is squarely in the second camp.
Certainly, the ingredient list is short: potatoes, oil, butter, salt and pepper. It’s pretty light on the kitchen equipment as well: 8” frying pan and a mandoline(or good knife skills and a chef’s knife). Pomme darphin can also be made ahead of time and warmed up for service. In it’s essence, pomme darphin is really a Frenchified giant latke.
The details of the dish are straight forward. Peel and julienne one or two potatoes. This needs to be done right before cooking as you can not rinse the potatoes in water. You need the potatoes’ starch to get the cake to stick together. Get a pan nuclear hot. You need to cover bottom of pan with oil, you don’t want any dry spots. No need to get knee deep with the oil, just an eight of an inch will do. You then mound the julienned spuds in the pan and neaten up the pile into an attractive cake. You will want to press down on the center a bit for more cohesion in the pomme darphin. Lower the heat under the pan to about medium at this point. While you want a nice, crispy crust, you also need to cook the cake all the way through. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes then start checking the bottom for golden brown goodness. When the bottom is done flip the cake and pour off any excess oil. Add some butter around the perimeter of the pomme darphin. Remember, this is a French dish. You then cook it until the bottom is nice and brown. Once finished cooking, season with salt and pepper. Cooked correctly, the potatoes will be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Of all the dishes from my French Culinary Institute classes that I made at home, this was the biggest hit with my girlfriend. Given, she is a spud junkie, but she really, really liked this dish. Besides bettering my culinary chops, it looks like the FCI has given me a get out of the dog house card as well.
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