French Cooking: Pommes de Terre Anna

French Cooking: Pommes de Terre Anna
Aldophe Dugléré was a French chef born in Bordeaux on June 3, 1805. He was a student of the famous chef Carême and oversaw the kitchens of Baron Rothschild until 1848. He then became the chef of the celebrated restaurant, "Les Frères Provençaux" at the Palais Royal. Not long after he changed establishments again and took the position of chef at the "Café Anglais", a restaurant which was, at the time, the "in" place to wine and dine. One of their most famous clients was Anna Deslions-a beautiful, celebrated, high-class courtesan. She was called the "Lionne des Boulevards". Emile Zola used her as his model for his famous novel, Nana. Café Anglais was Anna’s preferred restaurant in Paris. Chef Dugléré named one of his most requested potato dishes in her honor-Pommes Anna.  When the potato first arrived in France, the people were very suspicious of it. Some thought it would cause gas, leprosy or bring disease. Today the production in France is huge and the varieties of potatoes are numerous. For Pommes Anna the best categories are: Charlotte, BF15, Roseval, Nicola, and Francine. Be sure to slice the potatoes just before baking so that they do not turn color. If you must slice them in advance, place them in iced water to keep them white. However, this can result in a loss of their nutrients. This week’s "French Cooking without a Fuss" recipe for Pommes Anna requires only potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. What could be easier? The result will be a delicious dish of potatoes ,which are crisp and brown on the outside and creamy, tender and buttery on the inside. Pommes de terre AnnaPotatoes AnnaFor 6 personsCooking time:  45 minutes 8 tbsps.  butter (melted) 2-1/2 lbs. potatoes (peeled and cut into very thin slices) salt and pepper, to taste Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter (bottom and sides) a heavy 9-inch cake pan or oven-proof skillet (2-inches high). Arrange neatly a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan in a spiral fashion-starting from the center out. Drizzle the potatoes with the butter and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to layer the remaining potatoes in the same manner (potatoes, butter, salt and pepper) until they reach the top of the pan.  Press the potatoes down tight.  Cover with a piece of buttered aluminum foil. Weigh the potatoes down with a heavy saucepan (place directly on the foil).  Cook on the top of the stove (medium heat) for about 10 minutes. With the weight on top of the potatoes, put the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weight and the aluminum foil and cook for 15-20 minutes longer or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the inside of the pan to be sure the potatoes are loose from the sides. If there is excess butter, drain. Now put a serving plate over the potatoes and invert. The bottom of the casserole becomes the top. Et voilà!
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