Fondant Potatoes

fondantpotatoes“The texture this old-school method provides for russet potatoes is unlike anything you get by just roasting: so dense, moist, and rich. The way the crusty, crunchy edges outside contrast with the uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing”  quote by Chef John, who posts a like version of this recipe online at

When our son Jeremy and his family were here recently, he made this wonderful potato dish to go with our New Year’s Day 2017 dinner.  He had made Fondant Potatoes and told us about it in much the same glowing terms as the quote above.  He promised they would be amazing, and they were!

Fondant Potatoes

3 large whole russet potatoes

2 tablespoons high-heat-resistant vegetable oil

salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup chicken broth, or more as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Cut off ends of russet potatoes, stand potatoes on end, and peel potatoes from top to bottom with a sharp knife, shaping each potato into barrel shape.. Cut each in half crosswise to make 6 potato barrels about 2 inches long.
  3. Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in vegetable oil; heat oil until it shimmers slightly.
  5. Place potato cylinders with best-looking ends into the hot oil, lower heat to medium-high, and pan-fry potatoes until well-browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Flip the potatoes onto the opposite ends. As they cook, use a paper towel held with tongs to carefully blot out the oil from the skillet. Add butter and thyme sprigs to skillet.
  7. Pick up a thyme sprig with tongs and use it to brush butter over the top of the potatoes. Cook until butter foams and foam turns from white to a pale tan color. Season with more salt and pepper. Pour chicken stock into skillet.
  8. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook until potatoes are tender and creamy inside, about 30 minutes. If potatoes aren’t tender, add 1/4 cup more stock and let cook 10 more minutes.
  9. Place potatoes on a serving platter and spoon thyme-scented butter remaining in skillet over potatoes. Garnish with more fresh sprigs of thyme and a few of rosemary.

Gourmet Leftovers

I have a confession to make. I did not make Thanksgiving Dinner.  This was a first for me, but seemed a wise choice as we busy ourselves getting ready for Joe’s next big surgery.  I opted to order a turkey baked in a brick oven from a Turkish grill near us. Stuffng, potatoes, green beans, shepherd’s bread and baklava rounded out the menu!  Our son brought his homemade blackberry pie and I added some Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Haagen Daaz.  That was it.  I didn’t make pumpkin and pecan pies.  No focaccia bread.  No sweet potato balls.  Nary a green bean casserole.  And we loved it!  We relaxed, had more time for putting up the Christmas tree in the afternoon, and enjoyed each other.  That is not to say I will do it that way from now on, but it was a good choice this year.  No, I did my cooking AFTER Thanksgiving, getting in some kitchen therapy with leftovers. 

First, I made Shepherd’s Pie using gravy, turkey, vegetables and a small amount of stuffing for the filling.  Topped with cream mashed potatoes and baked until brown and crusty, it was delicious.  Then, a turkey bake with layers of stuffing, turkey and cream of chicken soup dressed with cranberry sauce.  Yummy.  But my favorite idea came from remembering how I loved for Daddy to make me fried mashed potatoes when I was a little girl and he had a cafe in the bus station in Jacksonville, Texas.  He would simply spoon up some potatoes, add some chopped onion and brown it on the grill.  Later, potato pancakes, German style, became a favorite.  The big pancakes I created for this dish are a mix of the two.  To make them, I added 2 eggs to roughly 2 cups of mashed potato and chopped green onion, browned them in butter in a cast iron skillet.  Topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, I can tell you they didn’t last long!