A whole lot of work is involved in the making of chef-restaurateur Joal Robuchon's famous -- and infamous -- potato puree. It demands concentration, hard work and not least a shocking amount of butter. But when you know the basic principles involved, it is up to you to decide how much to invest.
Gastronomer Andreas Viestad would like to stress two things: 1. Use a sieve or a potato press with a fine mesh and pass the potatoes through it at least twice. 2. Use a more moderate amount of butter, and the result is still good.
Robuchon uses Ratte potatoes, which yield an excellent result. TenPenh chef Cliff Wharton writes on StarChefs.com: "Not your normal tubers. A type of fingerling potato, Ratte or La Ratte potatoes appear in the winter and remain until April. A member of the nightshade family, they retain their flavor if stored in cold, dark conditions, like a walk-in. They are highly prized . . . for their buttery, chestnut flavor."
If you have a choice among different potato varieties, the general rule is to look for small heirloom types with a relatively high dry-matter content.
The richness of the puree means that you can limit the size of each serving: A spoonful or two goes a long way. These are best when made and served right away.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 pound small, starchy (unpeeled) potatoes, such as Yukon Gold fingerlings
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 8 to 24 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
Rinse and brush the potatoes thoroughly; cut each one into 2 or 4 pieces.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil over high heat; add a tablespoon of salt.
Add the potatoes; once the water returns to a boil, cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and soft. (Check for doneness with a fork.)
Drain the potatoes in a colander, allowing them to sit for a few minutes. While the potatoes are still hot, press them through a fine-mesh potato ricer into a large saucepan. If you don't have a ricer, you can press the potatoes through a metal sieve using the back of a spoon. Discard any skin that will gather in the ricer or the sieve. Process the potatoes two or three more times through the ricer or sieve; this will ensure a fine texture and is the best way to puree the potatoes without their becoming gluey. It will be significantly easier the second and third time.
Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Place the saucepan with the pureed potatoes over low heat. Once it has heated up, use a large whisk to stir in the milk, using slow movements. Whisk in the butter to taste a little at a time, making sure it is completely incorporated before the next addition.
For an even finer, lighter texture, pass the potato puree through a metal sieve or a ricer just before serving.
Adapted by Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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