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How-To

Skillet “Roasted” Potatoes

Try this easy method for creamy potatoes that taste like they cooked alongside a roast

Fine Cooking Issue 64
Photos: Scott Phillips
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If you love the way potatoes taste when they’ve cooked alongside a roast chicken or roast beef, then you’ll love my recipe for potatoes fondantes. It produces the same creamy inside and sweet browned outside that you get from roasting potatoes in a pan with meat juices, but with a few advantages: You don’t need to make a roast, there’s virtually no preparation time, and the potatoes cook in only about half an hour.

Potatoes fondantes (which means “melting”) is an old French recipe. The idea is to boil potatoes in broth until tender and then press on them just so they crack open. This lets the potatoes absorb the broth, giving them a rich flavor and a creamy, almost “melting” texture. They continue to cook, uncovered, until the liquid is evaporated and the potatoes have browned. Traditionally, the potatoes for this classic dish are peeled and trimmed into ovals, but my updated version—made with unpeeled, whole baby potatoes— is far less time-consuming.

The key to getting the creamy interior is to keep the potatoes surrounded by liquid. If the liquid doesn’t come at least halfway up the potatoes after you’ve cracked them, add a little broth or water.

Of course, this dish is great with roasted beef, chicken, or lamb, but for me, potatoes fondantes makes a meal with a garlicky escarole salad. I like to add a sprinkling of fleur de sel (French sea salt, available from www.surlatable.com) at the table to give a crunchy, salty bite to the creamy potatoes.

1. Put unpeeled baby potatoes in a nonstick skillet so they’re almost but not quite touching—they’ll need the wiggle room later when they’re cracked.
2. Boil the potatoes in chicken broth to get them tender and to give them meaty flavor. Cover the pan but leave the lid slightly ajar to avoid a boil-over.
3. Press firmly on the potatoes to crack them; this helps them absorb more broth and ensures a creamy, moist interior. After cracking, continue boiling, but now uncovered.
4. After the broth has completely reduced, let the potatoes sizzle in the skillet until their bottoms are deliciously browned. Turn to brown the other side and then serve while hot.

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