Monday, August 15, 2011

Potatoes a la barigoule

This is from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking. She calls it "a typically southern method of cooking potatoes".

The potatoes, though David does not say so, must fit into the pan in a single layer - otherwise, the bottom layer will collapse before the large volume of water evaporates. Maincrop potatoes such as King Edwards would disintegrate under this treatment in any event.

David tells you that the olive oil should come half way up the contents of the pan. What a lot of oil that would be.

So: scrape or peel new potatoes, put them into a heavy saucepan with as much olive oil as you think would be palatable when divided by the number of people at the table, and pour in just enough water to cover. Bring the contents of the pan to a rolling boil, and continue to cook until the water has evaporated. Turn the potatoes gently in the fat. David says that you cook them until they turn "a rich golden brown". Mine did not colour in this way, perhaps because I used less oil than she recommends.

Salt in the water would speed the softening of the potatoes. You may think that they do not need this assistance, and prefer to salt at the end.

1 comment:

Lorenzo M said...

Thank you for your post. I'm a fan of Elizabeth David & have cooked successfully from her books for many years. I only tried this recipe yesterday & had middling procedure results. I followed the recipe as exactly as possible with Yukon Gold potatoes using an alarming amount of olive oil & cooking at medium high for most of the 25 minutes, turning the potatoes once after 15 minutes. The liquid was not all absorbed as she suggested (about a half cup remaining) & the potatoes had stuck quite badly to the bottom. So that was all rather distressing. The potatoes came out a beautiful crackling golden color & tasted superb & I will try again using a thicker bottomed pan & less olive oil. In the south of France they produce olive oil so when David wrote the recipe in the 1960s the price of olive oil there was probably very reasonable. In any event this is a recipe worth working out.