Pommes Anna

Rosemary Pommes Anna with carmelized onion sauce. (Photo and styling by John Houser III, for The Baltimore Sun / September 5, 2012)

Potatoes are a humble food. Grown under the ground until harvested and kept in the dark until needed as filler for a soup or a quick side, they are rarely given a moment in the spotlight.

Sure, there are mashed potatoes and french fries, but they are used in many houses as a vehicle for gravy or ketchup. When properly cooked, seasoned thoroughly and paired with a complementing sauce, potatoes are surprisingly rich and reminiscent of their earthy upbringing.

This recipe is a culinary classic. Thinly sliced potato is positioned in spiraling circles to create multiple layers in a frying pan. Each layer is seasoned with salt, pepper and melted butter. This version goes a little lighter on the butter and adds finely chopped rosemary for a hint of mystery. Nutmeg is also added to reinforce the potato's folksy flavor. The sauce is made from caramelized chopped onions and pairs wonderfully with a big slice of the potato cake. You can caramelize the onions while the potatoes are baking in the oven and finish the sauce while the potatoes cool. Using a mandoline will save you a lot of time and give you uniform slices, but if you want to do the work, hand sliced is fine, not to mention a good way to work on proper knife technique.

john@rouxde.com

Rosemary pommes Anna with caramelized onion sauce

Makes: 4-8 servings depending on slice width

For the potato pie:

2 pounds mixed potatoes, sliced on a mandoline or by hand to between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch

1/2 stick of butter, melted

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

Fresh ground nutmeg

1 sprig rosemary, stemmed and super finely minced

Aluminum foil

For the onion sauce:

1 pound yellow onions, medium dice

1 large clove garlic (or 2 small)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 ounce water

Salt and pepper

To make the onion pie, preheat the oven 375 degrees. Using a brush or a paper towel, generously coat the inside of an oven-safe frying pan with melted butter. Place potato slices in a circular clockwise motion starting in the center of the pan and fanning out until you reach the edge of the pan. When a layer is completed, brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle rosemary, salt, pepper and nutmeg on top. Just use a pinch for each layer. Repeat this process until the potatoes are gone or you have reached the top of your pan. Cut an aluminum foil circle that fits in the pan and place over the potatoes. Place a plate that fits into the pan on top and cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven, take the plate and foil off and place back in the oven on the top shelf. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Cut the Pommes Anne in the pan, or invert it onto a large serving plate. Serve with sauce on the side.

To make the sauce, heat pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and lower the heat to medium low. Constantly stir until the onion mixture turns dark brown (but not burnt!). If the mixture becomes a too dry, add 2 tablespoons of water and stir to loosen the mixture. Add salt and pepper then stir to combine. Take the caramelized onions off of the heat and let cool. In a blender or food processor place the onions, yogurt, chives, mustard and one ounce of water and pulse to combine. If you think it needs it, add more salt and pepper to your taste.

Tip: Mix up the types of potatoes for you Pommes Anne for varying textures. I used starchy yellow potatoes, red waxy potatoes and a purple potato variety that I have only been able to find at the farmers market. You can also use sweet potatoes or a mix of sweet and savory just to mess with your guests