Food You Can Eat: Fondant Potatoes and Boulangère Potatoes

“What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” --- A. A. Milne

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Fall is here and what better time to carbo-load, hmm? New York, unlike Idaho and Maine, is not known for its potatoes. Nonetheless, we do have them, and here’s a couple of ways to up your spuds game.

Fondant Potatoes

I’m not exactly sure why they are called fondant potatoes, or in French, pommes de terre fondant. “Fondant” means melting in French, and these potatoes don’t melt…they melt in your mouth I guess. Anyway, these are simple and fun. 

Peel two small or one large Yukon or russet potato(es) per person. Slice the ends off each, so they will stand upright, and if using large potatoes slice them in half. 

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

In an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat about add a small glug of 2 or 3 tbsp. of olive oil. Just enough to get a low film over the pan. Salt and pepper the potatoes well, especially the tops and the bottoms. Stand them up in the oil for about 5 minutes while you cook them on high. Turn them over so they’re now standing on their other ends and add 1 or 2 peeled garlic cloves (whole), 2 tbsp. butter, and as many rosemary sprigs as you want/have. Keep this on the medium high heat for another 5 minutes.

Now add 3/4–1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, depending on how many potatoes, so the potatoes sit in a low bath, and then transfer the skillet and its cargo to the oven for 20—30 minutes (your oven, like your mileage, may vary), until the potatoes are very soft and the tops are golden brown but not charred. 

Boulangère Potatoes

This is a take-off on (or probably predecessor or cousin to) scalloped potatoes. This means “baker’s potatoes” (a boulangerie is a bakery) but again I don’t know why it has this name.

This makes 4 to 6 servings, depending on what you serve it with and how hungry the locusts you’ve invited around your table are.

Peel 3 to 4 pounds of russet potatoes and slice them thin. Use your mandoline. Then do the same with 2 onions.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8X8 baking dish, sprayed or very lightly oiled, don’t butter it, layer potatoes, onions, potatoes, onions, and the rest of the potatoes on top. Salt and pepper along as you go, if you want, or you can judiciously sprinkle in some garlic powder. Over this pour 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or, if this is feeling a tad bit too vegetarian, beef stock. If you didn’t use the beef stock, grate Parmesan cheese over the whole thing. Dot the top with butter (about 1/2 stick or 4 ounces) to make it brown better and, because, butter.

Bake for about an hour until it’s browned but not burned and the potatoes are ready. Stick a small, sharp knife in the center and try to assess whether any feel crunchy.



  1. NY used to be known for its potatoes until the suburbs spread.

    Though it looks like Long Island still has a lot of farmland, and a lot of the disappearance of potatoes is probably due to farmers switching to more profitable crops.

    • I didn’t realize there was something called There’s Newsday but that’s behind a paywall so unless you live on Long Island there’s absolutely no reason to read it.

      When Robert Moses was putting in his first parkways he turned to Long Island. He wanted NYC residents to have easier access to its beaches, because he thought it would be much healthier for the car-owning classes during the pestilent summers we used to have. A lot of the roads used to go through potato fields and they were not kept up and some of the more enterprising potato farmers put up tollgates and charged admission to traverse their lands. He took the land as of right and built the nearby beaches on the South Shore. There are beaches on the North Shore but that’s where the wealthy lived (The Great Gatsby is set there) and even he didn’t want to piss them off. Then he turned to the Bronx, with devastating results. I wouldn’t mind living in Oyster Bay; I don’t think I’d last a week in Mott Haven.

  2. You can give ’em all the fancy French names you want, but they’re still either fries or tots.  I would eat them, even if I can’t pronounce them.

    • Oh, c’mon, you can speak Italian, can’t you? Isn’t “tagliatelle” much more fun to say than “flat noodles”? It’s a drawback to the English language, everything sounds flat and monotonous to a non-English speaker. The only English speakers who add varying pitches to their vocabulary are the ones you avoid on subway platforms because they might push you onto the tracks in their medically untreated or drug-induced madness.

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