What are Boulangere spuds?

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Potato boulangere is a French dish made by layering thinly sliced potatoes and onions in a pan, dousing them in broth, and baking until crispy on top. The dish is often served with roasted meats and can be made using any type of potato. The onions are sautéed before being layered with the potatoes to ensure they are fully cooked. Boulangere potatoes are cooked covered for an hour and then uncovered until a crust forms on top.

The recipe for potato boulangere emerged from the French tradition of taking a potato casserole to the local baker at the end of the day so that the casserole could be placed in the baker’s cooling oven to cook overnight. The dish involves cooking thinly sliced ​​potatoes that have been layered in a pan with onions and then doused in broth. After an hour or more of cooking, the top layer of potatoes has browned and become crispy, while the bottom layers have absorbed the stock and become thick and moist. Boulangere potatoes are often served as an accompaniment to roasted meats and can make a dramatic presentation when the potato wedges are arranged in intricate patterns within the roasting pan.

The cooking method for making potato boulangere works best when the potatoes have been cut into very thin chips. This is often accomplished through the use of a mechanical cutting device such as a mandolin or food processor. The type of potatoes used is not necessarily important to the final result, as long as the flavor of the potatoes is acceptable to the chef.

After the potatoes are thinly sliced, the onions are sliced ​​equally thin, although it is not important to keep the rings of the onions intact. Many recipes for potato boulangere call for the onions to be sautéed in olive oil and butter until translucent but not fully caramelized. These same recipes sometimes fry the potatoes in the pan until lightly browned. This extra step can allow the potatoes to retain some texture as they cook in the oven and can also shorten the overall cooking time. Onions are cooked ahead of time because, when layered between potatoes, they don’t always have enough time to fully cook.

In a baking pan, a layer of potatoes is placed on the bottom of the pan. This is followed by a layer of onions; herbs such as parsley, thyme or rosemary; and then again the potatoes. The sequence is repeated until all potatoes and onions are used, with the top layer formed by potatoes. The chicken, veal or vegetable stock is heated in a pan with salt, pepper and garlic and then strained into the cooking dish until the tip of the liquid meets the top of the potatoes but does not completely cover them. The boulangere potatoes are then placed in a hot oven and cooked, covered, for one hour, after which the lid is removed and the dish continues to cook until a crust has formed on top.

When the boulangere potatoes have finished cooking, the broth will have been absorbed into the potatoes and the top layer will be crispy. Crispness is sometimes encouraged when baking with the addition of butter. The dish is often served with roasted meats such as lamb, veal or beef.

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