Pommes Anna is a grand name for what is essentially a dish of sliced potatoes baked in a very large amount of melted butter. Four ingredients are all that is required — potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. This very simple classic French recipe is all in the preparation and presentation, and the use of very, very thinly sliced potatoes. A simple, elegant and decadently delicious side dish, Pommes Anna was created in 19th-century Paris when chef Adolphe Dugléré created it for his favourite customer, the celebrated courtesan Anna Deslions. The legendary allure of Pommes Anna is a buttery, soft potato cake with a crisp, golden buttery crust. Using muffin cups to make mini versions of this classic recipe, my friend Suzanne created these culinary wonders using a mandolin to slice small Yukon Gold potatoes into very thin rounds, tossed with melted garlic and thyme herbed butter. The potatoes are subsequently layered and overlapped in a circular fashion in each of the muffin cups, then drizzled with additional butter and baked at 350°F until the potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, about half an hour. The mini Pommes Anna are then turned onto a baking sheet and baked for an additional 25-30 minutes until they the edges become crisp and golden brown. Magnifique!
Suzanne's Mini Pommes Anna
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit
1/2 cup unsalted butter
12-24 small tender thyme sprigs plus 2 tsp coarsely chopped leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 3/4 lb small Yukon Gold potatoes, each slightly larger than a golf ball
2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush muffin cups all over with butter and line bottoms with parchment-paper rounds. Arrange 1-2 small thyme sprigs in center of each round. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon butter into bottom of each cup. Add chopped thyme and garlic to remaining butter in saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes crosswise into very thin rounds, less than 1/16-inch thick, placing them in a large bowl as you work. Pour the herb butter over them and season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat well.
Divide the potato slices among each of the muffin cups, layering overlapping slices to create a circular pattern. Lightly press the centre of each to make each stack compact. Drizzle any remaining butter and seasoning from bowl over.
Cover the muffin pan tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, about 35 minutes.
Remove the foil and invert a rimmed baking sheet over the pan. Turn, lightly tapping on counter, releasing the potatoes onto the sheet, and rearrange any slices that may have fallen out. Using a metal spatula, carefully turn over the cakes, with the thyme sprigs facing down, and discard the parchment. Increase the oven heat to 425°F and bake until the bottoms and edges are crisp and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Carefully turn the cakes with the thyme sprigs facing up and serve immediately.