Here’s my spin on a classic potato preparation, Pommes Maxim: overlapping rounds of thinly sliced, buttered potatoes baked and served alongside meat or fish.
You can take this simple formula in a couple of directions – both of them deliriously tasty – depending on how thinly you slice your potatoes. At 1/8th of an inch, you’ll end up with a potato galette that’s pleasantly chewy and still has that characteristic “yielding” potato feel when you bite it. If you slice the potatoes paper-thin – 1/16 of an inch or less – you’ll produce a sheet of buttery potato chip: salty, crunchy and insanely rich.
Both versions are easy to make as long as you have a mandoline or Japanese Benriner-style slicer.
I made the potato chip version the other day. I started with a large, firm Yukon Gold potato, but you could also use a Russet. I melted a stick of unsalted butter and set it aside to cool down to less than finger-burning temperature. If you want to be really technique-driven, you could clarify the butter: removing the milk solids (which burn relatively easily) would give you a little more margin for error in the oven, and might make for more even browning. I didn’t bother, and mine turned out fine.
I wanted my rounds of potato to be the same shape, so I used a sturdy stainless steel ring mould to cut out a cylinder of potato. You could also use a cookie-cutter, but try to leave yourself with a tall enough chunk of potato so your fingers aren’t immediately at the level of the mandoline blade when you go to cut it.
Next, I sliced the potato paper-thin, directly into the bowl of melted butter, tossing the slices in the butter quickly to prevent them from browning. I then heated my oven to 300’F and arranged the potato rounds on a Silpat mat in a half-sheet pan. Parchment paper would work just as well.
I made tidy, individual servings of 7 overlapping rounds each. For a more informal presentation, you could make one big sheet and break it up into several shards (or make a big sandwich with peanut butter in the middle… what you do in the bedroom is allllll up to you, hoss.)
Depending on how thinly you slice your potatoes, you can go one of two ways here. For thicker slices, you can salt the potatoes and put the pan straight into the oven. Paper-thin slices have a tendency to separate from one another and crimp up. So, I decided to cover my rounds with parchment paper and weigh that down with another half-sheet pan.
Into the oven that went. After 15 minutes, I removed the top sheet pan and parchment, then salted and slid the spuds back into the oven for 5 more minutes to finish crisping. Here’s what I ended up with.
I served those atop butter-poached lobster with leeks and beet essence, from The French Laundry cookbook. So. Much. Butter.
So, that’s Pommes Maxim demystified. I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know how it went!