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How-To

How to Make a Crisp Potato Galette

Layer thinly sliced potatoes with cheese and fresh herbs for an irresistible savory tart

Fine Cooking Issue 53
Photos: Scott Phillips
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I like making potato galettes as much as I like eating them. There’s something very satisfying about arranging layers of thinly sliced potatoes in slightly overlapping circles, sprinkling on just the right amount of cheese, and watching the layers stack up. If you’ve ever made the classic French potato dish pommes Anna, you might recognize the process. The big difference here is that a potato galette (or “cake”) is made in a tart pan and baked in the oven, not crisped on the stovetop. This way, there’s no cumbersome flipping, and the tarts don’t require any attention once they’re in the oven. All you have to do is wait for them to be tender and golden—and smell that heady aroma as they bake. After cooling a few minutes in the pan, the galette is ready to be cut into wedges and served with roast beef or pork, sliced chicken, or even fish. The wedges reheat beautifully, too.

Follow these steps for successful potato galettes

Don’t worry if you don’t cut perfectly even slices of potato. You’ll have some very thin and some a bit thicker. These galettes are very forgiving—use your scraps to fill in spots and have fun layering.  

Don’t salt the potato slices while they’re still in the mixing bowl: they’ll tend to weep water. Wait until you’re layering them to salt them, and then sprinkle on just enough salt to lightly cover all the potatoes.  

Start layering the herb-coated potato slices along the outside of the pan and work inward.

For an extra-thick galette, use a taller tart or quiche pan or a springform pan and add more layers of potatoes and cheese. You’ll need to reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake the galette for 15 to 20 minutes longer.  

To make a wider but thinner galette, use a wider tart pan and arrange fewer layers of potatoes and cheese. Thin galettes make an especially nice base for slices of a juicy roast.  

Sprinkle the first layer of potatoes with cheese, and then arrange the next layer of potatoes.

Be sure to get all the shallots and herbs into the tart. Sometimes they get left behind in the mixing bowl, so as you’re finishing your layers, rub the remaining potato slices in the bits left in the bowl to carry them over.  

Every galette you make will be dif­ferent. It’s im­­possible to say exactly how many potato slices you’ll get into each galette. That means if your two or three potatoes don’t weigh exactly 1 pound, err on the high side and cut more.  

The last layers will lmlound up a bit higher than the top edge of the pan.

Don’t undercook the galette. You want the interior to be very tender and the outside to be crisp and nicely browned. Depending on the time of year, potatoes have varying degrees of moisture in them and will cook a little differently, so test frequently with a thin-tined fork to see if they’re tender. At the same time, be wary of cooking too long, as some cheeses begin to taste bitter when overly browned.  

To reheat a galette, cut it into wedges first. Wedges can go directly from the oven onto a plate, while a whole galette would need to cool a bit before you could remove it from the pan and cut it. Spread the wedges on a baking sheet and-heat, uncovered, at 350°F for about 15 minutes.

A fully cooked golden galette recedes slightly from the top and sides of the pan.

Customize your potato galettes

To make your first galette, follow the recipe and the tips above to get a sense of how much of each ingredient is needed to fill a tart pan. After that, you might not need a recipe; you can use your favorite combination of potatoes and cheese in whatever size tart pan you like and make the galettes as thick or thin as you want. They’re very flexible—perfect for improvising.   

Try red potatoes or baking potatoes in place of the Yukon Golds. For cheese, you can’t go wrong with Parmigiano Reggiano (just be sure to buy the real thing if possible—you don’t want a plastic tasting mass market Parmesan) or another good grating cheese like dry aged Monterey Jack. I’m partial to Gruyère, as its nutty flavor pairs so well with Yukon Golds. Be careful of very soft cheeses that melt into pools; they’ll just burn in the oven. I did go out on a limb once and put fresh goat cheese (along with a bit of Parmigiano) into a sweet potato galette, and I loved the tangy-sweet combination. For that last layer of flavor, choose an herb like thyme or rosemary that will stand up to the heat of the oven. Tossing the potatoes with softened shallots or garlic adds a nice earthiness, but if you’re short on time, skip these, as the galettes are great without them.

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