Pommes de terre à la crème (Potatoes with Cream) Mauviel Series

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Over the last several months I have been rigorously testing some cookware from legendary French maker Mauviel, and it has totally changed the way I cook. From searing meats to simmering velvety sauces or baking perfectly golden desserts, nothing cooks like copper. Even a thick steak won’t chill a hot copper skillet, and perfectly even heat plus instant response reduces scorching in a copper saucepan.

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Since 1830, Mauviel has been making some of the world’s finest copper cookware in a small village outside Normandy called Villedieu-les-Poêles, which is known as ‘The City of Copper’ for it’s 800-year tradition of copper making. Mauviel craftsmen still make each piece by hand, and each piece will last several lifetimes.

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I’ve noticed how much faster these pans heat up than stainless steel and even faster than aluminum pans, without any hot or cold spots; as a result I can cook at lower settings and so I rarely burn anything anymore, its like these pans have made me a better cook!  A heavy copper skillet is the best choice for cooking any protein, from delicately seared sea scallops to putting a crust on a thick juicy steak. Because of this, professional chefs around the world choose copper, and those who demand the best choose Mauviel, including Paul Bocuse himself, who selected Mauviel as an official sponsor of the culinary equivalent of the Olympics, the Bocuse D’or.

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This same legendary performance and durability is available to home cooks who appreciate professional quality. Mine have beautiful traditional cast iron handles which develop a lovely patina over time, as does the copper which darkens with use, like a diary of my cooking adventures! When I can’t wait any longer, I reach for the copper polish and it’s amazing how quickly the gleaming copper finish returns. These pans truly do get more beautiful with time unlike other pans which slowly degrade over time until they end up hidden in a cabinet; not so with these pans, you will be proud to display your Mauviel for decades to come.

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Today I’m writing about Mauviel’s tarte tatin, a round baking pan with little copper handles designed for the traditional French version of apple pie, though I’ve used it to make the French bistro classic potatoes à la crème. Decadent with crème fraiche and gruyère, it makes an excellent brunch dish when topped with a few twists of freshly ground nutmeg and served with a  salad.

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Potatoes with Cream (Pommes de terre à la crème)
adapted from LaRousse Gastronomique

2 pounds medium sized, starchy potatoes (yellow and red potatoes are the creamiest, but russets work as well)
1 cup crème fraiche, or substitute heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sea salt (I prefer Sel de Geurande for its rich minerally character!)
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2-3 small shallots
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoon butter, divided

Choose firm, starchy yellow or russet potatoes. Using a sharp chef’s knife slice them as thinly as you can, or use a mandoline if you have one to make the job easier and more professional. After all, you never know when a Michelin inspector will be stopping by!

Slice the shallots thinly as well and set aside. In a medium bowl combine the crème fraiche and milk, then whisk in the eggs, sea salt, and a few twists of nutmeg; set aside. Generously butter the inside of a shallow round baking dish, then arrange the potato slices in a spiral working from the outside toward the center, like a flower. Sprinkle with shallots, gruyère, fresh thyme, and a twist of nutmeg before beginning the next layer; repeat layering until pan is nearly full leaving room for cream.

Carefully pour the cream mixture into the center and spiral outwards, being careful wet the entire top layer. Tap tap tap the pan sharply on the table to help the cream make its way down to the bottom layers. Top with dabs of butter and bake in a 400’F (200’C) oven for one hour or longer, until the top is golden. Rest for 10 minutes or so before slicing and serve with a crisp white wine or better yet a lovely champagne. Garnish with chives and a dollop of dijon mustard. I’ve chosen a delightful dijon flavored with olives and herbs de provence from Maille to bring summer flavors to the dish; the bright acidity and garden fresh taste provide the perfect balance to rich, creamy potatoes.

Products featured
Mauviel Copper Pan
Peugeot Wet Salt Grinder
John Boos Block Walnut End Grain Cutting Board
Maille Dijon Mustard with Olives and Fresh Herbs
Le Guerandais Sel de Geurande 
Piper-Heidsieck Champagne
Revol ARBORESCENCE Dessert Plate (Ivory)
Revol BASALT Bowl
Wüsthof 4″ Pairing Knife Classic IKON

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