I guess I’m missing Charlie Trotter. As a young restaurant writer in the ’80s, I remember my first visit to his restaurant, accompanying a restaurant architect friend who was one of Charlie’s high-school chums. Sitting at chefs table in the kitchen, we chatted with soft-spoken Charlie & enjoyed a beautiful meal. But the best part was the finish when Charlie, with an impish smile, started bringing one after another after another dessert, each plated on a different dessert dish, completely covering our table with every whim and whimsy the pastry chef could dream up. Happy thoughts.
I’m glad the man has moved on to grow and change with new pursuits, but it’s always sad to see restaurant institutions close, and eventually fade from common parlance. Still, the things he did for fine dining will have lasting relevance–including the 14 cookbooks he wrote. You can still find most of them, including his “The Kitchen Sessions,” the 1999 book he wrote featuring recipes from his PBS show of the same name. I learned the basic technique for this potato pave from that book. (“Pave” is French for “paved” and shingling the thin sliced spuds into the pan, they do resemble paving stones.)
Our version includes layers of Idaho and sweet potatoes & onions, all seasoned with rosemary. Like other paves, the key is to very-thinly slice the vegetables with a mandoline, weighting them while they bake. (Think “pressed scalloped potatoes.”) Although a pave takes a little time, it’s an easy recipe, with pretty results & adapts well to use with a variety of vegetables and herbs. It’s become one of our favorite “company” side dishes.
Makes 12 servings
Rosemary Potato Pave Ingredients
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced with a mandoline
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced with a mandoline
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and very thinly sliced with a mandoline
- three sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1 tsp butter OR butter spray
- 2 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
- Set out three medium-sized bowls. In the first, thinly slice all four potatoes. In the second, thinly slice the sweet potatoes. In the third, thinly slice the onions.
- Pour 1/3 of the cream into each bowl. Snip the rosemary. Sprinkle and toss with the vegetables in each bowl, also salting and peppering contents of each bowl.
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. A layer of potatoes over; then onions over; then sweet potatoes over. Repeat until all of the vegetables are shingled in to the pan. Pour any residual cream over the pave.
- Rub the tsp of butter over a second sheet of aluminum foil, OR spray with butter-flavored spray. Tightly cover the pan with the second sheet of foil.
- Preheat oven to 350. Place the filled pave pan on a baking sheet. Take a second 8-inch square pan and press this, bottom-side down into the top of the filled pave pan. Place an oven proof weight in the second pan, or on top of the pan.
- Bake the pave at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest–still weighted– for 2 hours on a baking rack. Refrigerate–still weighted–for another two hours or, until you are ready to use the pave. (You can make this and refrigerate it for up to two days before you want to serve it.)
- When ready to serve, Remove the pave from the pan by inverting the pan onto a platter or cutting board. Peel off the aluminum foil. Cut into serving-sized squares. Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the pave squares until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Flip and fry again on the bottom side. Serve as a side dish.