Going old school French with this recipe for Duchess potatoes. Chances are, you’ve probably had Duchess potatoes, but likely didn’t even know it. Most don’t know the name or why it gets such royal recognition. Considered a classic dish in French cuisine, this dish is said to have been created for a British Duchess who visited France.
I can vividly recall learning how to make this traditional dish in culinary school as an entire week was devoted to learning how to properly cook with potatoes. This included learning how to use a rice mill, taking potatoes to the brink of breaking with just the right amount of butter and cream, as well as learning to peel and carve a potato into various cylinder shapes. And it also included learning how to turn a basic potato puree into various classic dishes such as this one.
Simple in definition, Duchess potatoes, also known in French as “pommes de terre duchess”, is in a nutshell, pureed potatoes mixed with egg yolk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg, traditionally pipped, or hand molded into shapes and then baked. The American twice-baked potato is probably the closest variation, but not nearly as good if you ask me.
Although potatoes, generally, are not the most ideal food nutritionally, I love them just the same. And truthfully speaking, maybe it’s my mid-western roots, but it’s just not a holiday meal without potatoes in some form. Duchess potatoes is an elegant, eye-catching way to serve potatoes and best part they work just as well for small group and the intimate holiday meal you may be planning this year.
The real trick to making great Duchess potatoes is making sure your puree is very smooth, that means no lumps at all. And they should also be slightly stiffer in consistency in comparison to standard mashed potatoes. The best way to achieve this is to use a food mill or a potato ricer. And once I learned this technique, I never went back.
My food mill is a go-to gadget in my kitchen and to be honest, it’s easier to use and clean in comparison to a hand melt mixer like my mom used when I was a kid. A ricer also gives to a fluffier potato that is not gummy or elastic-like which is what can happen when you “beat” mashed potatoes. Easy to make and elegant in presentation, this dish will wow just about anyone.
So if you’re putting together your holiday meal, give this classic recipe a go, you may just surprise yourself and your guests how amazing something so simple can be.
- 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 garlic glove, grated
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons salt
- white pepper, to taste
- Step 1 Using a large stockpot add the the potatoes and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain in a colander. Cool slightly.
- Step 2 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil 6 ramekins or a 8×8 baking pan and set aside.
- Step 3 Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, use a a ricer or mash the potatoes with a hand masher into a medium mixing bowl.
- Step 4 Add the butter and mix until well incorporated. Add the egg yolks, garlic, heavy cream, sour cream, salt and pepper. Using a rubber tip spatula, mix well but be careful not to over-mix.
- Step 5 If using ramekins, place the potato mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a decretive pasty tip and pip into the prepared ramekins. If using a baking pan, you can pipe the potatoes or keep things easy by simply scooping the potato mixture in the baking pan and using a rubber spatula, smooth out as best as possible. Once you have done this, take a tablespoon and pressing the front tip slightly into the potatoes, make shingles across the potatoes in a decorative manner.
- Step 6 Place in the oven and bake, rotating once, until golden and slightly puffed. If using ramekins, bake for about 15-20 minutes, for a 8×8 baking pan, bake for about 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
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