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How to make fondant potatoes

By BBC Maestro

Last updated: 26 September 2022

This dish has been a staple in the fine cuisine of France for centuries. Simple to make with just 3 ingredients, you can find fondant potatoes served in sophisticated brasseries or on kitchen tables across the world. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to make fondant potatoes, with the helpful advice of renowned chef Marco Pierre White.

What are fondant potatoes?

“Pomme fondants without question were the great creations of French gastronomy. Simple, but delicious,” says Marco Pierre White in his online cooking course. “The chef who created that dish, I have to say, was a genius.”

Braised in butter, crispy on the edges and creamy in the middle, it’s no surprise they’re a popular choice for diners looking for that richness found in French cuisine. 

In classic fondant potatoes, potatoes are cut into cylinder shapes, simmered in hot water and then fried in butter and salt for caramelisation. Some recipes call for them to be fried in stock or garlic and thyme for extra flavour, but Marco chooses to keep it simple in his fondant potato recipe.

Fondant potatoes layered on butter

Fondant potatoes recipe: 

1. For each potato, cut off its cheeks to give it a flat surface on the top and the bottom. Then take a small knife to trim the sides giving them that sloped edge. You want them to look like small cylinders in appearance. Repeat this for each and submerge them in water to avoid discolouring.

2. Cut the butter into 1cm slices and place along the base of an oven-proof frying pan. Rest the potatoes on top of the butter, presentation side down and season them with the salt.

3. Pour in enough water to come up to just below the surface of the potatoes. Take your empty butter paper and lay it on top of the potatoes. If you’ve already sacrificed your paper to the rubbish bin, a piece of baking parchment that covers the top of the potatoes will do.

Butter paper rests on fondant potatotes

4. Place the pan on the hob and bring the potatoes to a boil. Once they’re boiling, simmer them gently in the butter and water.

5. You’ll notice as the water evaporates, the butter will begin to caramelise the potatoes. It’s the perfect method, as the hot water continues to cook the potatoes through the steam. You will recognise the moment the water has evaporated as the gentle bubbling sound from the dish will change to sizzling as the potatoes gently fry.

6. Let them simmer hard in the butter until they are evenly browned. Then gently flip them. Season them with some salt and continue to simmer until they are 99% cooked through. You can then remove them from the heat and cover them in a double layer of cling film with the paper still in place.

7. "Another secret when making the perfect pommes fondant is to let them rest," says Marco. So let them rest off the heat for an hour.

8. After resting, brush them with a little bit of their own butter juice and season with some more salt. “The creaminess of the potato, drowned in butter, and that little explosion of salt takes you somewhere you rarely go with a potato,” describes Marco Pierre White.

Fondant potatoes simmer in butter

Why not try these creamy, soft and crisp fondant potatoes at your next dinner party? Or if you feel like adding a touch of fine dining to your Friday night dinner plans, this is the perfect treat.

If you want to learn more about cooking, check out Marco Pierre White’s BBC Maestro course Delicious Food Cooked Simply. And if classic French dishes take your fancy, Pierre Koffmann covers some of the nation’s finest cuisine in his course on Classic French Bistro cooking

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