Julia Child would have been 100 years old this month. In honor of the woman who made a nation “be brave in the kitchen”, I could not resist becoming a part of PBS’s tribute to her. #CookForJulia has asked us to cook one of her recipes for the celebration. I have made so many of her recipes from my collection of her cookbooks; everything from souffles to her signature boeuf bourguignon. So this time I decided to try something I had never made before.
The Way to Cook was published in 1989, long after the success of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was a cookbook that saw a lot of use in my kitchen. The concept was simple. Learn to cook a master recipe and then you can easily tackle any of its variations. The potato section is a treasure trove of Julia’s favorite methods of cooking them.
The grated potato galettes have an interesting background. Julia first had them at La Tulipe in New York City. She loved their crisp texture. When she asked how they were made, the restaurant’s sous- chef obliged with the details. The sous-chef was Sara Moulton. Two great cooks can’t be wrong.
The key to these crispy, buttery potatoes is to steam them just until they are almost done. Under cooking the potatoes will allow the potato pieces to stick together without additional ingredients. Then you must refrigerate them until they are cold. This will make grating them easier.
The underdone potatoes were perfect for grating.
My favorite part of this recipe was the fact that the grated potatoes could be left in a bowl until I was ready to fry them. I love it when I can prepare dishes ahead of time up to a point. Because they are almost cooked, they will not turn brown.
I chose to saute my potato galettes on my griddle, but Julia suggests cooking them in batches in a skillet. Next time I will do it that way because they would absorb more of the buttery goodness from the additional butter needed for each batch.
Join me in cooking for Julia this month. These tasty potato galettes were worth it.
GRATED POTATO GALETTES
2 to 3 large baking potatoes about 12 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or so of clarified butter or olive oil
Cooking the potatoes – several hours or a day in advance:
Scrub the potatoes under hot running water, then steam them for 12 to 15 minutes (mine took 25 minutes), until the potatoes are almost but not quite cooked. In other words, they should not be floury – after 12 minutes, pierce one with a sharp small knife, which should just penetrate. Cut one of the potatoes in half crosswise; if there is a raw central core, steam 2 or 3 minutes more. (If the central core is not cooked through it can discolor!) Let cool uncovered; the potatoes must be thoroughly cold before you grate them.
Peel the cold potatoes and rub through the large holes of the grater onto a baking sheet or tray. Toss lightly with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, leaving them loosely massed; set aside until you are ready to continue.
Film a frying pan with 1/8 inch of clarified butter or oil, and, when hot, spread in 1/2 to 2/3 cup of grated potato (the amount depends on how thick a galette you want). Saute over moderate heat for 4 to 5 minutes, pressing the the potatoes together lightly with a spatula, until the bottom has crusted and browned. Flip over, and saute to brown the other side a few minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet, and keep warm while finishing the rest. Makes 6 to 8 galettes with 2 potatoes.
Ahead of time note:
The galettes may be sauteed somewhat ahead. Set aside uncovered, at room temperature. Reheat briefly in a 425 degree oven.
Make a large galette in a 10 or 12 inch pan, and if you don’t have the courage to flip, brown the top under the broiler. After a light browning on the top, you could then sprinkle it with grated Swiss cheese, and brown again.