Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pommes de Terre Anna (Potatoes Anna)

To download a copy of the recipe for Pommes de Terre Anna, click HERE.

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This is my version of Pommes Anna, a classic French dish from the time of Napoleon, normally consisting of a layered cake of thin-sliced potatoes that’s covered with butter and baked till it’s crisp outside and tender inside. History is not clear about who Anna was, nor whether she should have felt complimented that an enamored French chef saw her and thought of potatoes covered with butter. For many of us, though, the most enduring mystery surrounding Pommes Anna is why the French chef – who, presumably, spoke French – gave it that name in the first place, since pommes refers to apples. Potatoes are “pommes de terre.” This title of this recipe has been adjusted accordingly.

Those pressing issues notwithstanding, this is an easy, yet classy, recipe that is made entirely of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • Garlic-infused olive oil is easy to make, but it must be prepared with care. Garlic grows directly in soil, which has naturally-occurring bacteria that can cause botulism. These bacteria are anaerobic, meaning that they thrive in oxygen-deprived environments (such as olive oil). The procedure described in this recipe is based in part on Emeril Lagasse’s “Garlic Infused Oil and Dipping Sauce.”

  • Credit to Chef Anne Burrell for proving that olive oil works as well as butter in this dish.
  • When serving, consider cutting the slices yourself. At a buffet-style meal, I recently discovered that people unfamiliar with Pommes Anna tended to scoop up the top few layers and leave the layers below for the next person. That’s fine for potatoes au gratin, in which all the layers are the same, but not for this recipe, in which some layers have ingredients the others don’t. (Since potatoes put through a mandolin can look a bit like apples put through a mandolin, you may also find yourself having to explain the pommes vs. pommes de terre thing too.)

This recipe makes an 8”x 8” baking dish of potatoes, about 4 – 6 side dish servings. (If you prefer, a 9" pie pan would work very well too.)

First we’ll prepare the garlic infused olive oil.

Cut four garlic cloves into thin slices.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm ½ cup olive oil to around 200 degrees.

Add the sliced garlic to the oil and cook until fragrant. (This should only take a few minutes.) Be careful to avoid burning the garlic.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool. Once cool, set the oil aside for about an hour, then strain into a sterile jar. Discard the cooked garlic.

Now we’ll work on our potatoes. They need to be sliced thin; a mandolin is recommended.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Grate 1 cup of parmesan cheese.

Lightly coat an 8”x 8” baking dish with some of the olive oil.

Rinse and dry 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes. Working one potato at a time, and working quickly to prevent oxidizing of the potatoes, slice the potatoes to about 1/8” thick in a mandolin.

Pat the potato slices dry with paper towels, and place one of the slices in the center of the baking dish.

Working around the first potato slice, arrange the next slices in an overlapping pattern.

Repeat with the next potato slices, working around the edge in an overlapping pattern. (Be careful when arranging the slices. Since the finished dish will be turned upside-down for serving, this bottom layer will eventually be the top, so it should be done very neatly.)

Brush this layer lightly with some of the olive oil.

Repeat for the second and third layers of potato slices, pressing down gently on each layer as it is completed to compress it. After the third layer has been brushed with oil, season with salt, pepper, ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp dried rosemary, and half of the parmesan.

Repeat the above for the remaining potatoes until all have been used.

To bake the potatoes:

Cover the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are baking, prepare a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicon baking sheet. If using foil, lightly brush the foil with some of the olive oil.

Uncover the baking dish and run a knife around the edge to prevent sticking.

Place the baking sheet on top of the baking dish.

Turn them over together to invert the potato cake onto the baking sheet.

Leaving the potato cake uncovered, bake until browned and crisp on the outside, about another 30 minutes.

Slice and serve warm or hot.

To download a copy of the recipe for Pommes de Terre Anna, click HERE.

Whether you decide to call it Potatoes Anna, Pommes Anna, Pommes de Terre Anna, or anything else, this is a delicious and classy side dish that’s surprisingly easy to make. Enjoy!

Hope you return next week for another great recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food , and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. When are you serving this? I'd love to have a taste!

    1. Thanks, Anne! :-) I made a triple batch last week: two to bring to a pot luck dinner, and one to have at home. All are gone now, but I'll be making more. (It was at the pot luck dinner that I found it was better to cut the Pommes Anna into slices before putting it out for taking.)