I’ve already sung my praises for potatoes in my Potatoes & Clams in Bacon Dashi post, but I’d like to say it again: I love potatoes. Chang has potatoes in three of his recipes, but sometimes a girl just craves a comfort food kind of potato dish and there’s no better place to look for comfort food than Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.
Potato Pavé sounds all French and fancy, but it’s basically a very neat (read: finicky), very Thomas Keller scalloped potato dish. It’s absolutely delicious. I have this thing for eating layered food and these potatoes were the ultimate layered potato dish.
You start with three mammoth-sized one pound potatoes. Potatoes can actually weigh one pound each! I almost didn’t believe it, but the grocery store had a handy scale that I used to find three perfect one pound potatoes. I must’ve scurried back and forth between the potatoes and the scale for a good 15 minutes, picking and choosing giant potatoes. Thank goodness I didn’t cause a potato-lanche.
The potato search was worth it; the pavé was creamy, with crisp, crunchy edges. It was like eating a thyme, garlic infused cake of potato goodness.
Keller has a reputation for crazy, detailed recipes, but I found the potato pavé one of his easier, less finicky recipes. If you take a look at this Martha video of Keller demonstrating, you’ll have a much better understanding of the recipe.
Ad Hoc Potato Pavé Recipe
1 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds russet potatoes (three 1-pound potatoes if possible)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon softened and 4 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic, skin-on, lightly crushed
Minced fresh chives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour cream into a large bowl; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Peel potatoes. Trim your potatoes so they fit in your baking dish. Set a mandoline over bowl of cream and slice potatoes lengthwise into very thin slices. Make sure the potato slices are tossed in the cream.
Brush a loaf pan with half of the softened butter. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 5-inch overhang on all sides. Brush parchment paper with remaining softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Trim slices to form an even layer in the bottom of the pan; repeat process to form a second layer. Dot with a few cubes of butter; season with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes and adding butter and seasoning after every two layers until pan is filled. Fold sides of parchment paper over potatoes. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to oven.
Bake until potatoes are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than the size of pan; wrap with aluminum foil. Place foil-wrapped cardboard on top of potatoes and weight down with heavy cans; let potatoes cool to room temperature.
Remove weights and tightly wrap pan. Refrigerate potatoes at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.
To serve, run an offset spatula between the parchment paper and pan to release. Using the parchment paper overhang, carefully lift pave out of pan or invert onto a cutting board. Trim sides of pave and cut into 12 equal pieces; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add enough canola oil to coat. When oil is hot, add potatoes, cut-side-down, along with thyme and garlic. Cook, basting with oil, until browned on first side. Carefully turn and brown on opposite side.
Transfer potatoes to a serving platter and arrange browned side up. Place a small piece of butter on each and sprinkle with chives. Serve.