Can't swing New York's top rated restaurant, Per Se, for Thanksgiving? Enjoy chef Thomas Keller's cuisine at a fraction of the cost with this selection from his cookbook, The French Laundry. Some of these meals can take hours of preparation and require obscure ingredients and advanced cooking techniques, but there are also plenty of simpler, shorter recipes here; you just need to know where to look.
Keller's Pommes Anna is a tasty twist on the classic, with the inspired addition of prunes. It's part of a larger, more laborious recipe called "Yabba Dabba Do," but this potato dish stands on its own and is a very doable addition to any Thanksgiving table. You can even prepare it earlier in the day, and it reheats beautifully with just 10 minutes on 450 in the oven. Click through for the recipe.
Pommes Anna, courtesy Thomas Keller's French Laundry.
10 pitted prunes
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon minced shallots
Salt (Gray salt if you want to get fancy)
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 large)
6 tablespoons Clarified Butter (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the prunes and chicken stock in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the prunes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove prunes to a cutting board and finely chop them. Add the shallots and salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 450oF.
Peel the potatoes. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the potatoes crosswise into 1/16-inch slices. Place the slices in a bowl of cold water for a minute to remove some of the starch, then drain and dry the slices on paper towels.
Put 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter in an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet. Place a slice of potato in the center of the pan. Lay more potato slices around the edge of the pan, overlapping them by half, until you have completely circled the pan. Depending on the size of the potatoes, continue with another overlapping circle of potatoes inside the first. When the entire bottom of the pan is covered, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the potatoes and repeat the process to form a second layer. Spread half of the prune mixture over the potatoes, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Make another two layers of potatoes, seasoning the first layer with salt and pepper, and spread the remaining prune mixture over them, again leaving a border. Cover the prunes with a final two layers of seasoned potatoes.
Pour the remaining 1/4 cup clarified butter over the potatoes and place the skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, cool for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to be sure that the potatoes are not sticking. Use a spoon to gently shape the top and sides of the potato cake, keeping the prune filling from leaking out. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 30-60 minutes, until the potatoes are well browned and crisp. Invert the potato cake onto a board or serving platter.
Melt a stick of butter in a small saucepan. Do not stir. Once it is completely melted, use a spoon to carefully scrape off the top, frothy and white layer. What remains is clarified butter, which can be used to cook at very high temperatures without sticking or burning.
And for more Thanksgiving ideas, take a look at our other holiday recipes here.