Is it possible for a potato to wow you with the most amazing flavor and texture? YES! Fondant potatoes, first created in France and known at pommes de terres fondantes, are crisp and crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, and bathed in brown butter, thyme and a broth of your choice.
Is it possible also that I might have lived my entire life and never have eaten such a decadent potato? YES! Why? I suppose, because I never saw them on a menu in any restaurant across America, nor had I seen them prepared on any cooking show, that is, until they kept popping up, year after year, on Master Chef! Good ole Gordon Ramsey must have taught every contestant on his program how to make them, and so I knew I had to learn too.
While these potatoes appear to be fancy (and yes they certainly are), they are just as down-home, easy to make, and family friendly as well. Since the fondant potato is first seared in a cast-iron pan on top the stove, then popped into a hot oven in that same cast-iron pan to cook for about 25 minutes, it frees you up to get the other components of the meal ready, something I have never been good at… time management in preparing a meal.
Let’s do this! Russet potatoes are a must to use. Cut a flat end to each end of the potato. Stand it on one end and cut the skin off, rather than peel, with the intention of making the potato appear to be a long cylinder. After creating the cylinder, lay it on its side and cut 3 even sections. You should have what look like 3 giant scallops.
Ingredients – 4-6 servings
- Large russet potatoes – 3, peeled and sliced as described above
- Canola or sunflower oil – 2 tablespoons
- Butter – 2-3 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Broth – 1/2 cup, any broth of your choice, warmed
- Sprigs of thyme – 3-4
- Cast iron pan works best
Preparation – Preheat oven to 400
Once the potatoes are peeled and cut into the desired shape (explained above), drop them in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes to rinse off the starch. Dry well on paper towels when you are ready to cook. Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a cast iron pan, really hot. Add oil, and when oil is hot add the potatoes. Strip a few sprigs of thyme across the potatoes. Keep the potatoes on that one side for a good 5 minutes. When they look as golden brown as the photo I have for you here, carefully turn them over, take a wad of paper towel into your tongs, swab up the oil quickly and toss in the butter. Add more thyme. Everything will be sizzling and popping. Use a spoon to lift up the hot butter and pour it over the potatoes repeatedly until that side of the potatoes are golden. Turn off the stove top, pour the warm broth into the pan and pop it into the hot oven quickly, no lid.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes to make sure the broth has not totally evaporated. If it has, add a few tablespoons more broth, but it should be good. After 25 minutes, take the pan out and let them rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with a few more thyme leaves. See how easy that was!