Pommes Anna is a classic French side dish. Here’s my version, “Pommes Julia”, in honor of Julia Child!
Pommes Anna is one of the first recipes I remember making when I was in college, even before I went to cooking. Even though it’s a simple preparation and has just a few ingredients, the presentation makes it perfect for a special occasion. (This post was originally published on August 17th, 2012, and contains affiliate links.) Thank you to the Washington Potato Commission for sponsoring this post.
Pommes Anna is one of the dishes that reminds me of Julia Child. She loved simple food, and butter! Pommes Anna has both. The humble, but versatile potato takes center stage, and clarified butter is the supporting character. I’ve given it a twist by adding fresh thyme. But you can also layer it with shallots, parmesan cheese, or other fresh herbs. Using clarified butter means that this dish is also Whole30 approved, Paleo and gluten free!
What kind of potatoes are best for Pommes Anna?
Boiling or russet potatoes work best for this dish, as they have a mild flavor and are firm enough to hold their shape when cooked.
Two methods for preparing Pommes Anna.
There are two ways to prepare Pommes Anna. The first method is on the stove top. For this preparation, a cast iron or very heavy skillet is best. If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, it’s a great skillet to add to your collection, and once it’s been properly seasoned, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one! For the second method, use a cake pan or springform pan with a removable bottom, which makes removing the potatoes much easier.
For both methods you’ll need clarified butter, which is butter that has all the milk solids removed and has a higher smoking point than regular butter. That means the potatoes will have a lovely golden crust, but won’t burn.
Peel the potatoes and keep them in a bowl of cold water until all the potatoes are peeled. This tip applies to all potato preparations to keep them from discoloring.
Slice the potatoes about 1/4″ thick using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Keep the slices in cold water until they are sliced.
Lay the slices on a paper towel while the skillet is heating up to remove excess moisture.
While Clarified Butter sounds complicated, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to make. (Post to follow) Heat a stick of butter in a saucepan over a low heat, when the butter is melted, skim off the foam and carefully pour the clear golden liquid into a container, leaving the milk solids. Whatever butter you don’t use, can be stored in the fridge for future use.
Over a medium heat, heat the cast iron skillet. Remember, cast iron is very heavy, so it requires longer to pre-heat. Once the skillet is hot, pour or ladle some clarified butter in the bottom of the pan, about 1/4″. Begin placing the potatoes in a circular pattern, working into the center. Season the first layer with salt, pepper and thyme, (or any other herbs, or cheese you may choose to add).
Since a cast iron pan’s handle will be just as hot, transferring the potatoes to a serving dish can be tricky. First, run a knife around the edge. If your cast iron pan is properly seasoned, it should come out very easily. I use a wooden cutting board and a hot pad holder and flip the whole thing over. Nothing stuck to the bottom and you can see the potatoes are perfectly golden brown.
TIP: To transfer it to a serving dish without it falling apart, I use the insert from my cake pan with the removable bottom. It’s very thin, and can easily slip under the potatoes.
Garnish the finished Pommes Anna with additional fresh thyme, and salt and pepper.
For the second method, you’ll prepare the potatoes in the exact same way, in a pan with a removable bottom. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake in the oven until the potatoes are fork tender, about 35-40 minutes.
For this version, I used parsley, thyme, chives and thinly sliced shallots. You won’t need to cover the pan if you use this method. Use this method if you don’t need extra oven space.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon shop. I receive a small percentage which helps maintain this site and the free recipes. Thank you, Cynthia
Pommes Anna, a traditional French dish with fresh thyme.
- 2 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
- 1/2 cup unsalted clarified butter*
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, chives, parsley, rosemary, oregano or a combination of herbs.
- Kosher salt and white pepper
Wash, peel and slice potatoes 1/4" thick and drop into cold water to prevent browning. When ready, drain and pat potatoes dry with paper towels.
In a 9 or 10" heavy bottomed cast iron or non-stick skillet, pour about 1/4" butter. Over a medium heat, arrange potato slices in a circle, sprinkle with some herbs, and a little salt and pepper. Add more butter andcontinue layering potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
Drizzle top with any remaining butter.
Cook over medium heat until bottom begins to get brown and crusty.
Reduce heat, cover and continue cooking until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30-40 minutes depending on depth of pan and thickness of potatoes.
When done, invert onto a serving plate and cut into wedges.
Sprinkle with more fresh herbs.
*To clarify butter, heat over a low heat until butter is melted. Spoon off and discard white foam. What remains is clarified butter. It has a higher smoking point than regular butter.
Look for Washington State Potatoes at your grocery store.