Monday, May 12, 2014

Patagonian Potato Galette

A steward of keeping tradition, Francis Mallmann coaxes complexity from few ingredients by honoring his Patagonian roots. His appreciation for straightforward preparation (cooking with various forms of fire) should not be confused as simplistic. Many years globally making a name for himself with his formal French training (his restaurants have been placed among the top ten in the world to dine) eventually led him to return to the cooking styles native to his home. Mallmann is not a stranger to roasting a whole, filleted cow (una vaca entera) over smouldering embers, or making a dessert out of little more than charred seasonal fruit and good olive oil.
Basically, say what you will, Mallmann is a bad-ass. Not because he can cook, lots of people can claim that title, but because he took his stuffy French training and tossed it in the fires he now cooks with. Who doesn't love a non-conformist?
The pure flavors and honesty of his heritage brought Francis to where he is. If you study what he does (check out his cookbook: Seven Fires-Grilling the Argentinean Way) you will see he is a poet summoning embers in place of a pen; his potato galette a fine example. Yes, you could add all sorts of bells and whistles to this dish, but you would be missing its glory. The butter, crisp-yet tender potato, and coarse sea salt transcend a thousand languages.
What Mallmann tells us with his recipes is perhaps what our ancestors already knew: it's extremely important to treat your ingredients with reverence, to pay attention during the cooking process, and to know when to back off.
These days, emulsions and foams seem to, at times, replace the beauty of well executed, easily identified ingredients. I've never been totally comfortable with the whole gastro-science-lab trend. Give it to me the way the Good Lord wanted me to have it: still sweating, smouldering, screaming to be eaten--with my hands....with a mortar-crushed herbaceous sauce, and eaten in good company, with good drink and with plenty for all. This is my idea of bounty. Of community. Of building bridges. You have a cow.....? Lets prepare the whole damn thing and eat it together, with anyone downwind of the fragrant coals invited to join.

For recipe details and many more, reference Francis Mallmann's Seven Fires--Grilling the Argentinean Way.
You can also watch him create this dish during his guest appearance on Martha Stewart.
OR refer to his original recipe via Martha Stewart (below). I used unclarified butter, and added chopped dill along with with the course sea salt once complete (see photos following recipe).

Francis Mallmann's Patagonian Potato Galette:



  1. STEP 1

    Using a mandoline, slice potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices. Keep potato slices stacked on top of one another to prevent discoloring while slicing.
  2. STEP 2

    In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter over low heat. Working quickly, arrange potato slices in skillet in concentric circles starting with larger slices around the perimeter and working towards the center, overlapping by about 1/2-inch and angling them up the sides of the pan. Cover gap in the center with a small potato slice. Pour 2 tablespoons clarified butter around edges and over potatoes, making sure to cover the center.
  3. STEP 3

    Increase heat to medium-high and place another heavy skillet over potatoes to weigh them down. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. If one side of the galette begins to brown too quickly, rotate pan or adjust heat as necessary.
  4. STEP 4

    Remove the weight, and, using two spatulas, turn galette. Invert galette onto a plate and season with salt; serve immediately. Repeat process with remaining potatoes and butter. If galettes are prepared in advance, transfer to a baking sheet and warm in a 350-degree oven 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

 Sliced potatoes arranged in pan.

Completed dish.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I was downwind of your damn cow. I guess I am, as the river flows. Nice tribute to Mallman.