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Fondant potatoes are a way of preparing the tubers so they are very soft and creamy on the inside, with a crisp crust on the outside. The ingredients for nearly every recipe are very simple, consisting of potatoes, stock, butter, garlic and thyme. The actual cooking method, however, can take a few different forms. Some recipes call for the potatoes to be boiled in stock and then fried, while others make the outside crisp by roasting the potatoes half-submerged in stock in an oven. Whichever cooking method is used for fondant potatoes, the result is a moist potato that has a caramelized stock glaze coating a crisp exterior surface with a very rich flavor.
The first step, which is not always necessary when making fondant potatoes, is to cut the tubers into a compact shape. This is traditionally a cylinder with a flat top and bottom, usually made with a knife and a circular pastry cutter. The sharp edges that are formed where the flat top and bottom areas meet the rounded sides are often shaved down or rounded, because they are very thin and have a tendency to burn. This step is not necessary, but it makes a more uniform presentation and creates flat surfaces to brown.
In a version popular in England and France, butter is melted in a pan. The cut potatoes are placed in the butter with one flat side down until the side is thoroughly browned and crisp. The potato is then turned so the opposite flat side is down and it is allowed to brown. After this process is done, the pan is filled with stock until the potatoes are halfway or three-quarters submerged in liquid and then placed in the oven to complete cooking. The final step is to put the pan back on the stovetop and reduce the remaining stock until it becomes a thick glaze.
Another way to make fondant potatoes is to first place the cut potatoes into a pot of boiling stock and cook them until soft. The potatoes are then taken out of the stock, dried, and fried in a separate pan full of butter, browning the flat top and bottom. In the meantime, the stock is reduced down to a glaze that is drizzled over the potatoes when they are served.
Fondant potatoes also can be made in a roasting pan. The cut potatoes are placed in a roasting pan that is filled with stock until it comes up halfway on each potato. The flat tops of the potatoes each get a pat of butter. The entire dish is put in an oven and cooked until the tops have browned, after which each potato is flipped, more butter is placed on the tops and the pan is placed back in the oven to finish cooking.