Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fondant Potatoes – A Creamy Crusty Blast from the Past

Every once in a while I get a food wish that instantly takes me back to culinary school. Things like aspic (not happening), larding a tenderloin (not happening), and pulled sugar (sort of already happened) always transport me back to those demos where the instructors fully admitted that we’d probably never use these skills, but since they were considered “classic techniques,” we’d have to spend time covering them anyway. Sure, makes perfect sense.

This fabulous fondant potato technique is a prime example. Made them a few times in school and loved them. Made them a few times at a hotel early in my career and loved them. Haven’t made them since, and not exactly sure why. They taste amazing, and as I try to make clear in the video, the texture this method provides is unlike anything you get by just roasting. The way the crusty, crunchy edges outside, works with the uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing. 

I just think that we’re so used to the usual rotation of potato side dishes; fried, roasted, mashed, etc., that it’s hard to push ourselves to do a potato recipe that has multiple steps. In fairness, the multiple steps are super easy, but still. Anyway, if you’ve never experienced the old world awesomeness that is the fondant potato, I hope this video inspires you to try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 fondant potatoes:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 large russet potatoes (other varieties will not work as well)
salt and pepper to taste
a knob of butter (a 2 or 3 tablespoon size chunk)
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock, more if needed
*Roast at 425 F until tender, about 30 minutes

View the complete recipe

60 comments:

Vinny Ferrara said...

I just looked up aspic... I can see why you never make it... it looks so gross XD

mattjeast said...

I'll definitely have to try this with dinner tonight! General question - is there a reason you leave the general recipe steps out the blog post (i.e., leaving out the temperature, approximate cook times, etc.)? I like going back to the blog while I'm cooking to review things, but I don't always have time to pull up the video and track my progress. Minor pet peeve. I love the blog, though!

themidnitewriter said...

I've never seen potatoes like this but it looks uhhhmazing! I wonder...can you do it with sweet potatoes and use some kind of cinnamon sugar butter? Idk what to do about the broth though....? (I obviously have more of a sweet tooth ha)

Memoirs of a Fourth Grade Teacher... said...

Are these the same as english roasted potatoes?

MJ said...

I've had this a few times before. I always thought they were badly made fried potatoes :s

Not a huge fan, but I can see the appeal.

Chef John said...

doesn't work as well with sweet potatoes since they just have a different texture and starch content.

Chef John said...

they're popular in England, but not sure of the other names.

Jason Smith said...

Pleeese...Cheeef.... One little Terrine for "old times sake??" :0)

Pyrofish said...

This looks tasty! Jaques Peppin did something like this that I still make from time to time. Now that I see this, it must have been his way of Americanizing this recipe. He took smaller skin on potatoes, and cooked them in a deep pan with a lid. He used the butter, and then poured in chicken stock to just cover. The potatoes are cooked for about 10 minutes with the lid on, then the lid is removed to allow the stock to cook out. It takes about 30 minutes depending on your pan. When the stock gets just over half way down the potatoes, you press the tops and bust the sides of the potato. The remaining stock permeates the potato and once the stock cooks off, the gooey buttery goodness is left at the bottom AND inside the potato. When I single, I'd make that for dinner some nights.

Your recipe looks FAR more presentable though! ;-)

Katrina said...

I too would like the FULL written recipe! Some of the steps are SO important. I will remember them short term but to come back in a few months, I wont. Things like rinsing in cold water for 5 min and getting rid of the oil and when . Also oven temp and how long?

Chef John said...

Did you ever consider writing these down yourself? I mean, I am doing the video for you (and getting yelled at, btw). Since I do all the heavy lifting here, I want people to take their own notes and create their own cookbooks. This is how people really learn to cook. This is not a recipe site, it's an instructional site, and a free one at that (I only mention that b/c of the entitled tone of your comment). Having said all that, Allrecipes.com posts the written recipes there eventually.

Chef John said...

Also, would a simple "thanks for the recipe" have killed you? What's happened to people's manners? I know, that's the internet.

gymchef said...

Ignore these people Chef John! You're right, that's the internet. Everyone thinks they're entitled to everything and anything, and they forget someone else is working hard providing and sharing this for info free. Manners on the web? ha!

Chef John said...

Pyro,
Yes I've had a similar version and loved it! Maybe will do as a future video. There's also a slicing poato variation that's great too.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Dang! These potatoes look delish and I'll be sure to make these sometime soon. Nevertheless since I be the boss of my 'taters, I might be tempted to trick 'em up a bit by stuffing some grated cheese inside. A little sprinkling of cayenne wouldn't hurt either.

Thanks! You're 'da best!

Chef John said...

Cayenne never hurts. ;) thanks!

Ed Adams said...

Chef,
I may be whining but having to watch you cook and then actually do the work myself is just too much trouble. Could you just come and cook it for me. LOL...I hope you read that with as much sarcasm as I intended. I truly appreciate, and many others do as well, that you continue to do this blog despite the whining, bitching, complaining, howyoushouldadoneits and all the other stuff you seem to put up with on every post you make. So, I thought I'd add a little sarcastic humor to liven things up.

Thank-you for doing what you do and showing the rest of us that want to learn how to really improve our culinary skills or lack thereof.

-Ed-

Sandy said...

Chef John, I love your recipes; thank you for posting your wonderful videos!! I have told several people "if you want to learn to cook watch Foodwishes!"

TheProf'sWife said...

I have always been a method cook. I love your website simply because, "This is not a recipe site, it's an instructional site". (Chef John) I get requests for "recipes" all of the time and I find my answer is always the same, "I don't have a recipe, just a method". People hate that answer. The fact is, however, that with instruction from Chef John I am able to take whatever food I have available and make something delicious because I understand better how food works-no recipe required.

Thank you for the free education Chef John!

Whispa said...

I wonder how these would taste with some olive oil and rosemary instead of the thyme and Vegetable oil..and some parm cheese added......

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon said...

Thank you Chef John for a great recipe. I so appreciate you, and all the special instructions you give us. I also was very impressed with your iron skillet. That is the cleanest skillet I have ever seen. You're a treasure.

Tina said...

Hooo, man. I made these last night and I'm not going to lie - there was a point during the cooking that I thought it was going to be a complete disaster. My stove must be a lot hotter than yours, because on high heat they almost burned within a few minutes. Even medium-high was too hot. The butter browned too quickly and then when I added the stock o_O ...It just about exploded. Magically, after 35 minutes in the oven, they came out beautifully. They were SO good. M husband - who hates potatoes - had seconds. I will definitely make these again - on medium heat :)

PhillyBear said...

hi Chef! i saw a few recipes for these that only used butter but take WAY longer. is the oil here used to speed up the process a little? i.e. so you can brown the taters over higher heat?

Chef John said...

Yes, so you can really get them browning well with a black cloud of butter smoke.

Bizzalls said...

I'm a big fan of the sarcastic, take-no-shit-from-nobody version of Chef John.

Dizzydaveman said...

Hi Chef John,

Love your blog! Thanks for your great work. I took a stab at making these last night, but I guess "high heat" on my stove is a lot hotter than yours (I set it on 9 out of 10) and my grapeseed oil burst into flame after being added to the pan! Not sure if it was just the heat in my skillet that caused the ignition, or a combination of the vaporized oil and the lit candle near the stove top...thanks mom for teaching me to quickly grab the baking soda to put out a grease fire!

Anyway, I decided to wait and try again after the smoke has cleared from my house. My potatoes are already sliced and peeled, and I already soaked them in the water bath and dried them, and now they're sitting in tupperware in the fridge. Do you think there will be a noticeable difference if I refrigerate them for a few days before using them for this recipe?

angelafaith said...

Hi Chef John, I just wanted to thank you for all the work you do with putting these videos out. I have a 5 year old daughter and a 3 year old son, and they love watching your videos with me and then making what we see. My daughter picked out this recipe for dinner tonight (and she generally hates anything potato), so again thank you for all of the great family time you have helped us to have. Angie

Chef John said...

Dizzy, not sure. Potato startch does change as they sit in the fridge.

Chef John said...

Angela, she has great taste. :)

Sandy said...

I made scalloped potatoes for an extra-special Father's Day steak dinner last week, so I have a few extra russets hanging out in my pantry. (There's another labor-intensive potato dish....but I love my dad, so he's worth all the slicing and layering and cheese grating.) I'll definitely be trying out this vintage recipe this weekend. I should make these as a side dish for scallops, just to really confuse my dinner guests.

mattjeast said...

I didn't consider that my tone came off as entitled. My apologies. I do really enjoy the blog, though, have made a handful of your recipes, and I've recommended it to a bunch of people! I guess I'm accustomed to other blogs I read (smittenkitchen, amateurgourmet, etc.) that have no video but mostly text with the occasional pretty picture. I usually don't mess around with the recipe the first time I try it. After that initial prep, all bets are off. I plan on making the BBQ flank steak over the weekend!

The X-man said...

Chef John,

Why not call them "Potato Scallops"? That way there's no confusion!

Lewis Smith said...

Just made this tonight and it went so well with the pork tenderloin and corn on the cob. Thanks for a great blog.

Mr_Rick said...

I am going to try this tonight. Looks amazing and I appreciate the video. I still remember your "No Knead Ciabatta bread" video...great stuff!!

Doc Simonson said...

Chef John, that looks amazing! When I lived in Germany, a wonderful British woman showed me this dish, but she used goose fat, and the potatoes were cut differently, but the idea was the same. Brown in fat, roast in stock and consume with relish!

CWR032 said...

Chef John,

Thank you for the blog and videos. I hadn't really thought before reading these comments that this is, as you said, an instructional site and not a recipe site. That made me realize that with your help I'm not just following a recipe, I'm actually learning how to cook. Regardless, I do think you were a little harsh with your reply to mattjeast.

Chef John said...

I was responding to Katrina, not mattjeast!

Doc Simonson said...

Could the problems people are experiencing with pans that are too hot be the pan itself? Maybe it is too thin on the bottom, or the materials transfer heat too quickly? I see chef's doing things in pans that I can never seem to do with cheap pans. It's time to sell on of my kids and get new cookware!

CWR032 said...

Chef John, I apologize. I missed that reply and see its demanding and almost threatening tone now.

Kathleen said...

I think pyrofish was talking about "smashed" potatoes. Cook small potatoes till soft, let them cool a bit. Transfer to a baking sheet, use your palm or a spatula and press enough so it becomes squat, not squished, splash with a little olive oil, S&P and I add herbes de Provence. Pop in a 425-450 oven for a bit and voila, Smashed potatoes!

Kathleen said...

BTW, I can't wait to try your potatoes fondant!

lovelysplendid said...

These look soooo good! I can't wait to make them but it's been so hot here I don't want to heat the kitchen. I've found so many amazing recipes through you, Chef John.

MEGB and LGJ Playground said...

Looks really appetizing! You are amazing Chef John! I remember having these similar potato sides in a Spanish restaurant and never know how they make it so moist!

I have a question regarding ready-made tart shells like this :
http://www.amazon.com/Pidy-Square-Neutral-Geometric-Tartlet/dp/B00C8HV78M/ref=sr_1_55?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1372831083&sr=1-55&keywords=tart+shell

http://www.amazon.com/Crescendo-Coated-Butter-Sweet-Shells/dp/B009PRJK8M/ref=sr_1_37?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1372831069&sr=1-37&keywords=tart+shell

Do you know any shops in San Fran that sells them in smaller quanity? (Amazon sells in huge bulk) We don't have this available in Hong Kong... Thanks so much!

Chef John said...

Sorry I don't!

kinjun ranger said...

Just made these for our Fourth of July celebration. They were gone as soon as I set them on the table. Thanks Chef John, another marvelous "instructional video" for us. Ignore the idiots Chef John, you have a loyal following that understands what this web site is (the best)!!!!

By the way: "Thanks for the recipe"

Brian Min said...

Chef John,

I enjoyed this dish very much. I am not sure if I will cook this often but it was definitely worth trying. The only mistake I made tonight is that I let the potatoes cool down little too much (while I was cooking salmon). But overall, it was a great one.

As always, thank you. :)

Brian Min said...

Chef John,

I enjoyed this dish very much. I am not sure if I will cook this often but it was definitely worth trying. The only mistake I made tonight is that I let the potatoes cool down little too much (while I was cooking salmon). But overall, it was a great one.

As always, thank you. :)

Michael said...

I made these last night and everybody seemed to enjoy them. The only thing that didn't come out quite like yours was that where your crust on the ends was making all those fork scraping noises, mine was soft and soggy even though it seemed to be just as brown by appearance.

It still tasted fine and we ate them, but I'm wondering what my mistake was. My best "guess" is that the oil in which I fried them may not have been hot enough, and they browned too gradually to really crisp up.

Dried thyme was all I could get hold of, but I added some fresh chives to make up for it. Tasted fine to me.

Stubor said...

Chef,

How about calling it Potato Scallops, since scalloped potatoes is taken?

Just a thought, I think Ms. Katrina meant her comment as a tongue in cheek compliment (I hope). In any case, thanks ever so much for the instruction. I will type up my notes immediately.

Leigh said...

I just recently found your YouTube channel, and this was the first recipe I tried. These potatoes were heavenly. I served them with a pan seared double-cut pork chop, and some tarragon pan gravy. Thank you, thank you, thank you...your newest follower!

arts4all said...

YUM!!

I just discovered your blog while looking for a lower fat recipe for lemon curd. This potato dish caught my eye and I just made it. I popped a length of Kielbasa in the pan to roast in the oven with the potatoes.

Will definitely make this again. I love to cook and don't mind several prep steps so long as there aren't seventyleven ingredients also!!

Thanks for a great blog and videos ;-)

Ken Patton said...

Chef John;
THANK YOU so much for such a fabulous recipe! I discovered your blog and videos about a month ago, and since then I've been avidly exploring all that you have to offer! It's great -- I watch the video, take notes, make a shopping list, watch the video again, and then I dive in... and I've had wonderful results every time! You explain things well, and in a way that makes sense... I've always been comfortable in the kitchen, and I make dishes that I'm proud of, but your instruction has elevated my cooking and presentation, and for that, my sincerest thanks.

These potatoes were crispy, crunchy, creamy smooth and so flavorful! I paired them with another recipe of yours, the Garlic Steak -- sheer perfection.

You rock like no one else!

Chewy2 said...

Made this the other night with your southern style green beans recipe and meatloaf, my family loved it all. Making these potatoes again tonight with haddock and more green beans (garden overload). I'd welcome any other green bean recipes you might have by the way... :(

Jasin Tizzard said...

I tried this myself last night, with a little improv, i ended up setting my smoke alarm off twice, and my butter mix ended up turning almost black when i removed the potato from the pan i was using

Tito ChickenWing said...

Thanks :)

Michael said...

I bought a 5lb bag 'o russets today. My fat ass can't wait! I've been craving these for a week!

Cindy Rose said...

I am not a good cook but I have found recipes that I can cook on the internet and this is one of them. This was easy to do and ended up delicious. My picky husband actually liked them. I tried russet potatoes first and tonight I am trying red. I have learned it is okay to fail in the kitchen because I will come back try again. That and I am learning to use my own imagination. But if it weren't for these instructions and videos I wouldn't have attempted it.

Laura Salazar said...

I know some of these comments were made back in June, and won't be seen by the "right" people, but why don't some of you take your computer, tablet, phone, into the kitchen and watch Chef John WHILE you're making the dish if not sure of all the steps?? I've had to wipe off my computer many times from doing this!! I pause the video so I can complete the last step…..just saying. So, thank you Chef John for coming into my kitchen and helping with all these wonderful dishes. :)

Wren said...

I made the fondant potatoes for dinner tonight (with an uninspired meatloaf and steamed broccoli). It was delicious. Thank you Chef John. It was a blast making such a fancy looking treat.

WoundedEgo said...

ISTM that the butter, thyme and stock should be poured off into a bowl for either a dip or a gravy. I should think that the balance of power as given seems a little be too much to the plain ol' potato in the middle, which isn't even salted and peppered.

I haven't tried them, though, but just saying that appears to be the case from here. Very visually appealing, for sure.