Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fondant Fingerling Potatoes


The term 'fondant' may sound French, and I  even mistakenly pronounced it in my head as 'fawn-dawn' potatoes when I first read about them. However, this recipe is quite British and pronounced as you see it FonDANT. More people need to cook potatoes this way because it is easy,  quick and amazingly delicious. The classic version of this recipe requires you to peel the potato and cut out a sort of cylinder shape first. I don't have that kind of time, so I just split some fingerling potatoes down the middle and kept the skin on; to good effect I might add. Here's what I did:

Wash and dry a bunch of fingerling potatoes. Then halve them length wise and season them generously. Get a really generous knob of butter going in a pan (preferably non-stick) and once it is foaming, put your potatoes in cut-side-down.  Now drop the heat a bit so that your butter doesn't burn and let the potatoes take on a nice golden crust - about 7 or 8 minutes. Once you're happy with the crust, carefully turn over all the potatoes, and then very delicately ladle in some hot chicken stock just so that the liquid goes all the way up the sides, but does not cover the tops of the potatoes. Given that the potatoes are all different shapes and sizes (I can see the logic of pre-cutting the spuds now), it's best to fill it up so that the stock reaches just to the top of the smallest potato. You want that crispy side to stay out of the liquid if you can. Then throw on a some fresh sprigs of thyme and and drop it to a simmer and allow the potatoes to gently cook in the stock. Your stock will start to reduce, so keep some more warm stock nearby in a sauce pan to top it up periodically. Fingerlings won't take long to cook - maybe ten minutes at the most. The ideal situation is that when the potatoes are cooked, the stock will have reduced to a delicious buttery chicken-flavoured glaze (note, if you are using store bought stock it will be too salty to reduce - round it out with water if necessary. Homemade stock is ideal for this because it is not salted).

Once done, you can serve this British retro food with any good roast dinner, or just on their own with a little salt and pepper.

Post Script:

Okay, okay, there is a French recipe called 'pommes fondant', but this is a completely different recipe which involves mashing the potato first then frying.  The origin of the British fondant potato is a bit cloudy, I've read that 'fondant' means 'cooked in its own juices', but it still isn't clear why 'pommes fondants' are mashed then fried and 'fondant potatoes' are fried then boiled - strangely the reverse order. Ah, the mysteries of food.

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