If you can’t afford truffles, you indulge in truffade, say the inhabitants of the Auvergne, notoriously among the coldest and most rugged areas of France. Often served with sausages, truffade is a potato cake recipe flavored with bacon and laden with cheese as a buttress against the worst weather. Nippy Cantal is the local hard cheese, although Gruyère may be substituted.–Anne Willan
LC The Perfect Pan Note
If you want to show off—for yourself or others—and neatly invert this potato pancake onto a plate, then you best use a deep 10-inch nonstick skillet with reasonably high sides. Maybe even an 11-inch skillet if it’s shallow. But honestly? We’re not impressed by such things. What makes us wobbly in the knees is honest food made by humble people and served with a side of good conversation. So we’d be just fine if you shimmied over to the stove with the skillet, slid it onto the table, and called us to supper. In fact, we’d be better than fine.
French Potato Pancake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 40 M
- Serves 4
- 1 five-ounce piece lean bacon
- 2 tablespoons lard or mild olive oil
- 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled if desired and thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces Cantal or Gruyère cheese, diced or cut into thin, narrow strips
- 1. Trim any rind from the bacon. Cut the bacon into slices 3/8 inch thick. Stack the slices and cut them crosswise into short strips. In a 10-inch deep-sided skillet over medium heat, fry the lardons (this is just a fancy French word for bacon chunks) until they release their fatty goodness in the form of bacon drippings, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let the bacon brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
- 2. Add the lard to the skillet, return to medium heat, and wait until it melts. Toss in the potatoes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. (Be judicious with the salt as the bacon may make the potato pancake salty enough.) Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lardons and continue to cook, uncovered, over low heat, tossing or stirring often, until the potatoes are tender and some of the potatoes are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t worry if some of the potatoes get crushed, as this will help hold the potato pancake together.
- 3. Stir in the cheese and season again with salt and pepper. Using the back of a spatula, press down on the potatoes to make them even in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the potato pancake cook, without stirring, until the bottom is browned, 3 to 5 minutes, pressing on the cake occasionally with the back of the spatula to hold it together. When the potato pancake, or truffade, is done, it should be brown around the edges and starting to pull from the sides of the pan.
- 4. Take the skillet off the heat, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, and then turn it out onto a warmed plate or platter or serve it straight from the skillet. Cut into wedges and serve hot.
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French Potato Pancake Recipe © 2007 Anne Willan. Photo © 2007 France Ruffenach. All rights reserved.
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