I was online looking for an interesting potato recipe that was more than just “taters,” when I came across a picture of an entrée with a side that resembled spiraling Russian minarets. The caption named the featured side dish as “pommes duchesse.”
The recipe looked busy and complicated, but I found it was only mashed potatoes piped onto parchment paper. It was then brushed with an egg wash (for color and crunch), and browned in an oven. It appeared intriguing, so I thought I would try it.
What makes this side look so elegant is the piping. The finished product should resemble a cone having a diameter of about 2” and a height of about 2”. You can artistically create the dish to resemble a chocolate kiss, a soft serve ice cream cone, or if you are really creative, you might experiment with different piping tips and nozzles to get that spiraling Russian minaret effect. This will take some practice. The potato mixture should also be a bit on the dry side so it has some body, or your cone might collapse when piping or during the cooking process.
If you think your featured dish might appear a bit boring on the plate, then the addition of pommes duchesse will liven it up. The result is definitely worth the trouble. Not only have you created an elegant side, but it’s crunchy on the outside while being soft and flavorful on the inside. The downside to this is it can’t be done the day before like a good ol’ potato casserole.
So who is the mysterious duchess this unique dish was named after? From what I could gather, no one knows for sure. Efforts to find the aristocrat who lent her title have not been successful. It’s thought that perhaps there was none, and the dish was named as such because it was simply worthy of a royal, but really, as William Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?” So, to my way of thinking, you can get fancy and fussy, gussy it all up and name it after nobility, but a tater is still a tater.
Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse)
POMMES DUCHESSE POTATOESList
2 1/2 lbs.Potatoes (yellow or russet)
2 TbspButter softened
1/4 tspNutmeg fresh grated
To tasteSalt and pepper
1 tspCream heavy
1Garlic head large
SprigsRosemary and thyme
3 TbspButter softened
1/2 cupCream heavy or whipping
1 TbspHorseradish sauce
Salt and pepperTo taste
Ahead of time wrap garlic, herbs, and EVOO in aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Enter Target Time _______________
Time: __________ (75 minutes prior to target time)
Peel and quarter potatoes, place in 4-quart saucepan of water, enough to cover, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Drain the potatoes and then shake them over medium heat to evaporate liquid.
Pass them through food mill into medium mixing bowl.
In small mixing bowl mix butter, egg yolks, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Add to potatoes and carefully incorporate, trying to keep the potatoes light but firm.
Scoop the potatoes onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, making a well in each scoop of potatoes (or you can pipe the potatoes for a more elegant effect).
Brush with egg mixture and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes.
In a small 1 quart saucepan add softened butter, cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat until hot. Keep warm.
Remove garlic hulls, smash and coarsely dice the cloves, and then add to the saucepan. Whisk together. Keep warm.
Spoon into wells of potatoes. Garnish with blades of chives.
To add a bit of color, roast some cherry tomatoes. Toss tomatoes with EVOO and salt and pepper. Roast under broiler on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet until peels break and the skins start to discolor. This can be added to grilled asparagus.