Monday, April 4, 2011
Okay, I am not going to complain today. Not about the winter weather (stupid winter weather, oops), not about the crap-o-la photo I got of this really lovely dish, and not about the fact that it's Monday. Instead, flowers.
I'm going to give you some pictures of artist Will Ryman's flower sculptures lining Park Avenue. Pictures taken on a dreary, rainy day. That wasn't complaining, just a statement of fact.
I kind of love these flowers. They're huge, some of them up to 25 feet tall.
I also loved these fancy-pants mashed potatoes, but my pictures were bad because they were taken hurriedly at night (again, just a statement of fact). According to James Villas, whose recipe this is, the difference between a farçon and a gratin, is that in a farçon the vegetables are pre-cooked and then pureed before being baked. Although Villas mentions farçons made from cabbage, carrots, turnips and pumpkin, the potato kind is the version you're most likely to encounter in some country inn in Savoie and the Jura.
It's quite a luxurious way with potatoes, which aside from all the butter and half-and-half, get passed through a food mill or potato ricer for that particular silky texture. Just like mashed potatoes, this is wonderful served alongside something that might seep its own sauce all over the plate, for the potatoes to soak up. Ragouts, stews, grilled sausage. Makes winter seem not so bad.
Adopted from The French Country Kitchen by James Villas
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, passed through a press
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are very tender, drain them and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Transfer the garlic and onion to a large mixing bowl. Run the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill into the same bowl. Add in the eggs, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper, as well as the rest of the butter. Stir the mixture hard until it is well combined and the butter is completely melted. Add the half-and-half and give it a few more good stirs so that it's all combined.
Transfer the potato mixture to a large buttered gratin dish and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned and crusty. Serve.