“Oh, look. We still have these potatoes. And it looks as if they’re starting to go bad in spots!” It happens to everyone; you buy a large bag of potatoes, and, even though you’re diligent, towards the end, some start to go bad. While you can’t really do much to save the bad parts of the potatoes, you can make Stovetop Potatoes Anna with the portions that are still good. And, no, it doesn’t have anything to do with those Stovetop “foods” that line the supermarket shelves.
We’d heard of Potatoes Anna before, but neither of us had tasted it. When we looked at the recipe in The Way to Cook, by Julia Child, we knew we would have something akin to Scalloped Potatoes when we were through, since it involved two great tastes that taste great together: cheese and potatoes. That’s enough to get us scratchin’.
Makes 4 servings.
Apparently, it’s traditional to use Swiss cheese in this dish. Could be traditional, but we didn’t have any in the house, so we used sharp Cheddar, instead. Since the potatoes are peeled, buying organic potatoes isn’t as important. As this is going to cook for a while, the olive oil will lose most of its flavor, so you could use pretty much any mild oil.
Procedure in detail:
Peel and slice potatoes. Fill a bowl with cold water, and, as you slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices, place each slice in the cold water to remove some of the starch and keep it from browning. Removing the starch will make for a creamier potato dish at the end, and, preventing the browning (oxidation) will keep the potatoes looking appealing.
Heat skillet and oil. Absolutely use a really good non-stick skillet — we used well- seasoned cast iron — because these potatoes are going to do their best to stick. And, with 45 minutes of cooking, they’d be able to stick ’til the cows come home. Add about 3 tablespoons of the oil and heat over medium heat until hot.
Drain and dry. Drain the potatoes into a colander, then dry them in a clean towel. Without water on the outside, you’ll reduce the amount of grease spatter, and, since you’ll be layering in the potatoes, this will be a good thing.
Layer potatoes. Working quickly, layer the potato slices on the bottom of the pan, allowing them to overlap slightly. When you have one layer, put down another.
Layer cheese. Now, place a layer of cheese on the potatoes, then another layer of potatoes.
Season. Sprinkle with freshly- ground black pepper and a bit of salt, then drizzle with the remaining bit of oil.
Crisp. Let the potatoes cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to help the bottom crisp a bit.
Cook. Lower the temperature to low, cover, and cook the potatoes for about 45 minutes, or until a sharp knife easily pierces the potato slices.
Unmold. Now, we come to the most difficult part, removing the potatoes from the pan. If you want, you can wimp out and just scrape out pieces of potatoes and serve. Here in the test kitchen, we are going to try to unmold those potatoes. Using a spatula, we worked our way around and under the potatoes until we could tell that the potatoes were unstuck. Placing a plate over the top of the pan, and hands covered with hot pads, we quickly inverted the plate pan combo, and the potatoes fell right out. We did fix up a few straggling potato slices.
Serve. Cut through that crisp layer on the bottom to form wedges and plate.
Well, these had potatoes and cheese, so we knew from the get go that they’d be good. Even so, they were even better than we expected. The soaking in water helped give the potatoes a creamier texture when cooked, and, the crispy cheese/potato crust that formed on the bottom was, as we’re sure you can guess, delicious. Even better than the crispy parts of scalloped potatoes. Really. Four stars.