Monday, September 29, 2014

Marbled Potato Pavé - Expect the Unexpected

The Thanksgiving work has begun and before I get to the good stuff this upcoming weekend (dessert obviously) I started easy and got the first side out of the way. Last week I briefly touched on the "fun" tone I'm going for for Thanksgiving and the pavé is as good a place as any to start. 

My greatest enjoyment in cooking is the unexpected and using traditional techniques to create something that excites from the moment you see it. I've never been able to draw or paint, never picked up an instrument, never really did anything artistic until I learned to cook so I take that very seriously. If it doesn't look equally as good as it tastes then it's not ready for the big time.

All of which means no mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving. 

Oh and I think I'm getting the hang of this finally! I mean look at all those pictures! 

Special Equipment
Mandoline slicer

Marbled Potato Pavé

Pavé in French means paver and these little bricks incorporate some of the very best of French cooking; dairy, dairy, and a little more dairy. Creamy, buttery, garlicky, savory, I have your attention yet?

The best part is they're not hard to make. In fact they're a dream for a full holiday spread. The majority of the preparation can be done a full two days early and they are very filling so you won't need to make a whole lot. They also beg to be customized so this won't be the last you see of them.

Some notes on quantities here. There...aren't any. I wasn't kidding when I said it was easy.

heavy cream
Russet potatoes, peeled
sweet potatoes, peeled
unsalted butter, ~5 Tbsp softened
thyme, chopped
garlic, minced
chives, minced
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a large bowl with heavy cream, season with salt and pepper. Using a mandolin slice potatoes lengthwise 1/16" thick adding them to the cream as you slice, tossing them occasionally. 
Stir it up
Brush a 3" deep pan with some of the softened butter, line with parchment paper leaving a long overhang. Brush the parchment paper with the remaining softened butter, season with salt and pepper.

Trim the potatoes to fit solid, even layers in the pan. Begin with 2 "sheets" of Russet potato on the bottom, dot with thin pieces of butter, season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Alternate with sweet potato slices, butter, thyme, salt, and pepper and continue until the pan is full.
Do a better job at "even layers" than me.
Fold the parchment over the potatoes, cover tightly with foil. Bake ~1 hour 50 minutes until very tender. Remove from oven, cool 20 minutes. Uncover and place a piece of cardboard, foam, anything rigid you can cut to fit into the pan, then weigh it down evenly with whatever you've got on hand. Cool it like this until room temp
I am Italian so I used my perpetual surplus of tomatoes.
Wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours to 2 days to set and firm potatoes. 

Showtime! Preheat oven 250F. Remove the potatoes from the pan, trim the edges, and slice into squares. Heat some canola oil in a skillet at medium-high. Brown cut sides of squares first then quickly brown the top and bottom of the squares. They're tougher than they look so you shouldn't need to baby them too much in the pan or worry about them falling apart. Place the cooked squares on a plate in the oven for ~15 minutes to finish warming through.
They're going to smell good. Control yourself.
My kind of monument.
Arrange the squares on a platter, top each with a small amount of salted butter and sprinkle with chives.
I'll take my check now Land O Lakes...

Crispy outside, smooth inside. Like a truffle! A garlicky, buttery truffle.

That's pavé. I told you it was simple. Next week it's apples all weekend. So many that I'm considering splitting the post in two at the least. Stick around, I'm just getting started this season.

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