I found myself alone for dinner last week. The Princess was visiting her grandparents and Mr Grumpy, who moonlights as chief dishwasher in our house, was off doing something (supposedly) important. When considering what to eat, the crucial consideration became to limit any dirty dishes created to those that would fit in the dishwasher. This potato boulangere fitted the bill perfectly. Easy to prepare, minimal dishes and the perfect side dish. I had mine with oven roasted salmon.
This boulangere, otherwise known as a potato bake, is little more than sliced potatoes and onions that have been tossed with rosemary, salt and pepper, covered with chicken stock and slowly simmered in the oven until meltingly tender. It requires minimum effort but produces a dish suitable for the best of company. It is also very easy to adjust the size of the dish according to the number of mouths you are feeding. I allow one potato per person, plus a few extras if I am feeding notoriously greedy people.
If my potatoes are fresh with lovely, tight skins, I don’t bother to peel them. I just give them a good scrub before slicing them. I will peel them, though, if the skins are tired and rough. Much of the nutrition in potatoes is stored in and just under the skin, so try to keep the skins on if you can.
I serve this as a side dish with pretty much anything; grilled fish, roast meat, chicken schnitzel. Anytime I can’t be bothered cooking an additional side, this goes in the oven. It could also be served as a vegetarian main with a side salad and some crusty bread to mop up the juices. Just substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock, and maybe increase the amount of potato per person. I have on occasion used cream in place of some of the stock, which creates a richer dish.
Bake this in a gratin dish or shallow baking tray and the top layer of potatoes will go golden and crispy. I am quite partial to this layer, so invoke the cook’s prerogative and pretend that the rest of the family has the same amount that I do. If cooking this for one, you don’t have to share the crispy top. And best of all, you have minimal washing up.
Potato & Rosemary Boulangere
It is not necessary to peel the potato, but it will not affect the final dish if you decide to do so.
Cook this in a shallow dish to maximise the crispy top.
- 1 slices potato sliced into into 2mm thick
- 1 small shallot finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- Salt & pepper
- Chicken or vegetable stock to cover
- 1 Tablespoon butter optional
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Toss the potatoes, shallot and rosemary together in a bowl, ensuring they are well mixed.
- Season well with salt & pepper, again mixing thoroughly.
- Layer the potatoes and onions in a shallow gratin or baking dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
- Pour over enough stock to just cover the potatoes. It is fine if the stock does not completely cover the top layer of potatoes. If desired, you can place small dabs of butter over the top of the potatoes to assist them to brown.
- Place the dish in the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour, basting the potatoes every 15 minutes with the chicken stock. Alternatively, push the potatoes under the stock with the back of a spoon to baste them.
- The dish is ready when the potatoes are meltingly tender and the top is browned and crispy.