13 May 2011
Sorry to go M.I.A. again so soon… I was suffering from a horrible U.T.I. last week, which was turning into a painful (and bordering on dangerous) kidney infection. It’s always something, isn’t it? C’est la vie, as they say. “They” being the French. Anyway, I was out of commission for a few days. The house was a mess, and I wasn’t cooking. I spent two full days laid up on the couch doing nothing but drinking a crap ton of water and peeing every 20 minutes. Some weekend! But once I finally got some antibiotics in me, I was on the mend quickly.
Anyway, I’ve been cooking almost every night since feeling better, but there have been a few repeats. One of them was this super easy meatloaf, which I adapted from Bryanna’s original recipe to suit my own nostalgic taste. Very easy and tasty. I served it with my stand-by Dijon Brussels sprouts and a new side dish that I have to share. They act as a little sneak peak at my new project in the works (new meaning “closing in on a year old in development”): pommes boulangère, or pommes de terre à la boulangère, if you want to be super correct. They are so delicious – I cannot even tell you how imperative it is that you try this recipe out one day. Perhaps wait for the coolness of autumn, since it’s starting to heat up, and these require a good couple of hours in the oven. (I made this on one of the chilly, dreary days earlier in the month.) The name of this dish implies that these potatoes are prepared in the style of the baker’s wife, la boulangère. It is so named because most people living in small French villages in the countryside did not have ovens in their homes. Instead, casseroles and baked dishes were taken to the only place in town with an oven – the local bakery – to slow cook during the day and be ready by suppertime. Not to toot my own horn – but I will – these may just be the best potatoes I’ve ever had. Really. So I leave you know with la recette…
2 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed (recommended: Yukon Gold variety)
2 T. canola oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large, dried bay leaves
2 branches fresh thyme
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 c. vegetable stock, as needed
1 T. vegan margarine – diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1 branch of thyme and the bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened – about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and sauté until richly caramelized – about 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the potatoes using a mandolin or sharp chef’s knife (you want them to be as thin and even as you can possibly make them). Place the potatoes in a bowl of water while you continue preparing the dish to prevent browning.
Add the garlic to the onions and cook until fragrant – about a minute. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Spread half of the onions evenly across the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Drain the potatoes well and season them with salt and pepper. Lay half of the potatoes in the baking dish on top of the onions in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and lay a branch of thyme on top. Spread on a layer of the remaining onions, then place on a final layer of potatoes. Pour in the stock (just enough to cover everything), dot the top of the mixture with the diced margarine and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the dish with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 2-3 hours, or until the liquid has completely reduced. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is golden brown. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.