Chef’s Note: There are two twists to this classic French recipe:
1. We will not be using the traditional pan: A special double baking dish made of copper called la cocotte à pommes anna. It consists of upper and lower halves, which fit into each other so that the whole vessel with its contents can be inverted during cooking.
2. We will be making these as individual servings in nice white ramekins. The size of ramekins is 4.5 inches across by 2-inches tall.
Peel the potatoes.
Chef’s Note: In a traditional pommes anna, the potatoes are peeled and then trimmed into cylindrical shapes. That way every slice is exactly the same size. And that makes the presentation look good.
Here’s what I do… I peel the potatoes, and then when we slice them, I save the good slices for the top and bottom, and hide the misshapen ones in the middle.
Slice the potatoes into thin, 1/16-inch (0.2cm) slices.
Chef’s Tip: The only way that you’re going to do this, without driving yourself crazy, is with a mandoline, so that the slices are of uniform thickness. You can purchase a professional French mandoline for hundreds of bucks, or you can pick up a small Japanese slicer (mandoline) for about ten bucks.
Chef’s Note: Do not immerse the sliced potatoes into a cold water bath, as some recipes suggest. We want those potato starches left on the slices, and they will help to bind the dish together.
Separate the nice perfectly round slices from the misshapen ones into two piles.
Cut a piece of parchment paper into a round that fits on the bottom of the ramekin.
Brush a bit of clarified butter on the bottom of the ramekin, place the parchment paper inside, and brush a bit more butter onto the top of the paper.
Here’s where the fun starts: Take some of the good potato slices, and arrange them in a counter clockwise circle around the bottom of the ramekin (see the video).
Add another layer of potatoes; this time clockwise, then more butter, salt and pepper.
Continue the layering process until the ramekin is about 3/4 full. Don’t forget to finish with the good potato slices, and put the odd ones in the middle.
Finish with another dash of butter, salt and pepper.
Place a rack in the middle position, and then preheat the oven to 350 (176c).
Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 425 (218c), and continue to bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Chef's Note: The first 35 minutes (covered), steams and softens the potatoes, the next 30 minutes (uncovered), crisps them.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then invert the ramekin onto a plate, and serve with your favorite, fish, poultry, beef, or whatever. Enjoy.