The ultimate luxury potato dish
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 25 – 35 mins
IDEAL FOR: luxury side dish
I had to make these.
Potatoes go with everything in our family.
And my father – the most unadventurous eater of them all – wouldn’t allow a day to go by without a potato on his plate.
So much so, that when I did a European camping tour with my parents one year, my father insisted we drag a sack of potatoes around.
Imagine this trip, set in stunning seaside campsites where you relax at the end of a long day.
Now, think mid-summer, erecting tents, tables etc in the scorching heat.
What more would you want than a tall gin and tonic.
With beautiful local fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, cured hams, fresh bread to have alongside.
Good enough for mother and me.
But then there was my father.
Firing up the camping stove to cram as many of his beloved potatoes into boiling water so he could have them with his supper (in the searing evening heat).
The love of the spud
He did love his potatoes.
So, if I told him that I was doing fondant potatoes…
- He’d have no idea what they were
- And if I’m brutally honest, I don’t think he’d be that keen on them.
He’d eat them of course – he loveed butter!
But Dad was a creature of habit and knew what he liked.
So it’s unlikely he’d be asking for more fondant potatoes.
Just boiled with ‘a bit’ of salt, pepper and butter. Done.
But for me, fondant potatoes are up there in decadence.
You wouldn’t want them every night or even every week… unless you wanted to give yourself an early stroke.
But every now and again, serving up herby-garlicy-buttery-melting-potatoes (fondant means melting), is a wonderful thing.
And the best news… it’s really not hard to do at all!
What are fondant potatoes?
They’re a classic French technique of cooking potatoes.
As we know, the French love a bit of butter in their cooking.
In a nutshell, it’s shaped potatoes, browned in butter and roasted or cooked on the hob with stock and butter.
Lots of butter!
The stock and butter become a velvety, rich sauce which absorbs into your spuds.
This isn’t for the faint hearted.
But in the result is crisp, golden potatoes on the outside.
And soft, moist, melting potato in the middle.
How to make the perfect fondant potatoes
- Size matters. You need potatoes that are close to the same size so they cook all at the same time.
Otherwise you can end up serving a mix of under-cooked and over-cooked potaoes.
- Soak the cut potatoes in cold water before cooking them. This helps remove some of the starch so they’ll crisp up quicker – do your peeling and shaping and pop them in a bowl of cold water for 20mins
3. Get your herbs in! Add garlic, fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary, they’ll infuses the potatoes with flavour.
The cooking method
There are a couple of ways.
Some start their fondants on the hob before transferring the dish to the oven.
But you have to keep an eye on them and the liquid as you don’t want it to dry out.
The other, which I have done, is simply on the hob the whole time.
You can keep an eye on them and keep spooning over the butter and stock sauce.
You start with crisping the potatoes first in the pan to get the top and bottom a lovely golden colour.
This can take 5 mins or so on each side.
Then add your butter, garlic and herbs and finally the stock.
I used a small knife to check if they were soft in the middle after about 25 mins.
Then I served them up to the delight of my family.
Now, I am no chef so I didn’t carefully shape the potatoes (as you will have notice in my photo).
But I didn’t want to waste to much so just made sure they were as even in height and width as possible, in order to get an even cook across them all.
Enjoy giving them a go.
They are decadent but a lovely treat alongside a Sunday Roast or a special meal.
- 6 medium Maris Piper potatoes or a floury type
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 4 large garlic cloves, bashed
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 200 ml chicken or vegetable stock
- Slice the ends off the potatoes so they can lay flat on either side.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the potatoes cut-side down. Fry for 5-7 mins, or until deep golden brown, then flip and fry on the other side. Add the butter to the pan to melt.
- Scatter the garlic and herbs around the potatoes and season well. Carefully pour the stock around the potato. Cover and simmer gently for 25-30 mins, or until the potatoes are tender.Serve.
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