I’m just going to call it: There can be no better potato preparation in the world than this stunning beauty. Just look at it. It’s unreal. All those paper thin layers, all that burnished crispness. Dubbed “Laser Potatoes” by the team at Olympia Provisions, it is the Platonic ideal of crispy, creamy, starchy potato goodness. And to my unending gratitude, they included the recipe in their new cookbook.
You can bet money that there will be Laser Potatoes on my holiday table this year, because a) how could I resist making this? and b) special occasion dinners require special occasion potatoes. But also because c) this genius recipe must be made at least a day ahead. With company coming and presents still to wrap, the more I can do before the crowd descends the better. The day of the feast, all I have to do is cut it into wedges and crisp them in the oven for 15 minutes.
This recipe has another big thing going for it: It’s cheese-free. As much as I love creamy scalloped potatoes and cheesy gratins, they can be a pretty heavy side dish, especially for a meal that, at my house, typically starts with well-marbled beef and ends with ginger stout cake. Plus, there’s a cheese-phobe in the house.
So I’m dusting off my mandoline, and stocking up on Yukon Golds. Even though this $5 showstopper will likely outshine my $70 prime rib, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
From Olympia Provisions by Elias Cairo, Meredith Erickson
Makes 8 to 12 servings
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups finely julienned onions
5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the butter and onions in a large pot over medium heat and sweat the onions until they are tender and translucent, without browning, about 4 minutes. While the onions are sweating, slice the potatoes to about 1/32 to 1/16 inch (1 to 2 mm) thick on a mandoline into large bowl. Add the onions and mix until the potatoes are coated with butter and the onions are evenly distributed. Add salt until you can just taste the saltiness over the sweetness of the onion and season lightly with pepper.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, and press into the bottom of the pan. Layer the potato mixture into the pan until it is heaping full. Pour over any excess butter from onion mixture. Once the pan is full, cut another parchment paper cartouche and place it on top of the potato pile. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 1 ¾ to 2 hours, until you can pierce the potatoes with a skewer without resistance. To achieve a crispy surface, remove the foil and the top parchment and broil for the last 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for at least 45 minutes. Gently press the potatoes with a spatula until flat on top. Refrigerate to meld the flavors, at least 5 hours or up to overnight.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons melted butter. With a knife or spatula, carefully cut around the edge of the pan to loosen the potatoes. Invert the pan onto a cutting board or large plate and carefully remove the parchment paper. Trim any dark or ragged edges off the top of the potatoes, and cut into twelve wedges. Place as many wedges as you want to serve on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and hot, 12 to 15 minutes. Wrapped with plastic and stored in the refrigerator, the unsliced potatoes will keep for 1 week.