Linn Attempts a dish by Michelin-starred Joel Robuchon, pommes purée, a dish not to be confused with mere mashed potatoes.
One of the things I love about the London food scene as compared to Bangkok is the availability and variety of Michelin-starred restaurants. The exorbitant prices that these restaurants charge, however, has meant I’ve been able to try them only now and then, either on special occasions or when I’ve saved enough money.
When I was visiting London last year, I had the chance to dine at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is one of the many restaurants the renowned French chef has opened around the world. Joel Robuchon has earned more Michelin stars than any other chef and this restaurant branch in London holds two. There are more of his restaurants located closer to home, in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and, recently, Singapore.
Whilst Joel Robuchon is known for many creations, one of the dishes he’s most famous for is pommes purée, the English translation for which, mashed potatoes, doesn’t do full justice. However, from what I remember, the purée was served towards the end of my meal, when I was already too full to eat much. We had a late dinner appointment that day, and despite my friend’s reminder not to eat before we went to the restaurant at 10, I was unable to abstain from picking at my cousin’s dinner when I was at home waiting. My cousin too is a good cook and he made stew that night. Therefore, I wasn’t able to enjoy the meal at the restaurant as much as I could because I was too full.
Another dish I had at the restaurant — Foie Gras
When I was back in Bangkok, I found myself craving for that luxuriant, legendary purée. Perhaps it is my love for mash potatoes but the purée did live up to standards.
In fact, luxuriant shouldn’t even be the word to describe mash potatoes. It’s a common dish that’s easy to make. From the small tubs you find in KFC to ready-made varieties in the supermarket, you can get mashed practically anywhere. But as most great chefs and artists do, Robuchon has taken something simple, mundane even, and created something exalted.
I’ve seen Robuchon’s cookbook lying around in restaurants before, and heard that one of the secrets to his magnificent pommes purée is the amount of butter he puts in. I decided the dish wouldn’t be too hard to make, as compared to his other dishes of course. And work meant that I couldn’t just fly over to Singapore or anywhere else merely to satisfy my cravings. That wouldn’t be sensible, would it?
So over the weekend, I attempted Joel Robuchon’s famous pommes purée. With Google’s help, I was able to find his recipe. Some sources use heated cream, but after much research, I gravitated more towards using heated milk, as that’s what I think was stated in the original recipe.
I’m not very sure how the heated milk changes the texture or taste of the mashed potato, as I usually just use cold milk; but being a newbie and seeing the end result, I’d like to think that that’s one of the ‘secrets’ to the purée’s great taste. And this knowledge would be the reason why I would form a smirk on my face and say ‘It’s a secret’ whenever people asked why the purée tastes so good.
Another procedure that would make this creamy concoction irresistible is passing the mashed potatoes through a sieve at the end. I’ve never performed this before in all my years of making mashed potatoes, but it makes sense.
Although it is an arduous and messy task, the end result is a velvety texture — a potato purée instead of just ordinary mashed potatoes.
Here is the recipe that I used. It calls for russet potatoes because this variety can better absorb the milk and butter. However, I used normal potatoes and they worked just fine.
15/08/2011 - 10:09