Pommes Anna is a French potato dish dating back to the 19th century that generally calls for only four ingredients: potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. The potatoes are usually sliced very thin and layered into a pan of melted butter. The dish may be baked in the oven or fried on the stove, and it often requires being flipped at least once during the cooking process. The result is a circular potato cake that may be cut into slices. It is typically served as a side dish that is crispy on the outside and tender and creamy on the inside.
Many food experts suggest waxy, firm potatoes over regular baking potatoes for this recipe. Four to six spuds are often called for in just one dish of pommes Anna. One must take care to slice them quite thin. This task may take up a lot of time, but a mandolin or food processor can speed up the work.
Butter is then melted into a pan. Any nonstick frying pan should work for stovetop recipes. Most cooks prefer to bake pommes Anna in the oven, however; in this case, one may prefer a cast iron skillet, because they are oven-safe. A copper pommes Anna pan made specifically for this dish can be purchased. Its two halves not only help to make the cake compact, but allow for easier flipping during baking.
The potatoes are then placed in the plan in several overlapping layers. Each layer is usually brushed generously with more butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. Any remaining butter may be drizzled on top of the pommes Anna before it is baked or fried. It is not recommended that one try to substitute any other type of fat for butter.
Though pommes Anna may take a fair amount of effort to prepare and time to bake, it is still prized by many as a classic French dish that requires very few steps. It is relatively inexpensive to make and uses readily available ingredients. One may find any number of recipes online and in several French cookbooks.
Pommes Anna is believed to have been pioneered in the 1800s by chef Adolphe Dugléré, who worked at the famous Parisian restaurant Café Anglais. Though the namesake of the dish has been debated, many say he took the name from actress Anna Deslions. Cook Julia Child points out, however, that Deslions was an artist later in life, but at the time of Dugléré’s creation, she was actually a well-known and beloved courtesan.