Published March 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
This crisp, earthy-tasting potato cake would be the perfect side dish—if it weren’t for all the fussy layering. And does the cake have to fall apart when you slice it?
Potato galette’s fussy procedure limits it to special-occasion fare. And recipes that promise to streamline this dish rarely deliver.
We wanted a foolproof recipe that took minutes to assemble and cooked largely unattended.
Pommes Anna is traditionally cooked in a cast-iron skillet, but we opted for an oven-safe nonstick skillet, which avoided the risk of the cake sticking to the pan bottom. To compensate for the lighter, thinner pan’s browning inadequacies, we began the galette on the stovetop (where the direct flame jump-started the browning process), then slid the pan onto the bottom rack of a hot oven, which ensured great browning.
With our galette now deeply bronzed, we addressed one lingering problem: How to keep the potatoes from sliding away from one another into a messy heap when we sliced the galette. In an effort to minimize preparation time, we shingled the bottom layer but simply poured most of the potatoes into the skillet instead of artistically shingling them all, so that the bond between the piled-on slices was fairly haphazard. Since the amount of starch in potatoes can vary drastically, we needed to find another means of gluing the slices together. We added a bit of cornstarch to the melted butter that we were using to coat the potatoes, tossed the two components together, and proceeded with assembly.
Compressing the potatoes as they cooked also helped keep them together. We filled the center of a cake pan with pie weights, placed it on the galette, pressed down firmly, and left it on during the first half of baking (with a sheet of nonstick-sprayed aluminum foil in between to prevent the pan bottom from sticking). After removing the cake pan halfway through cooking to allow the top layer of potatoes to take on a little color, we were delighted to find the cake not only uniformly browned but nicely compacted as well.list of recipes