Pommes Dauphine is just a fancy way of saying potato fritters. Except these are no ordinary fritters. This is what you get when you combine mashed potatoes with choux pasty, the very dough that gives us gougères and éclairs and all sorts of wonderful French pastries. The dough is fashioned into little oval dumplings, using two spoons, and deep-fried until golden. Making them is easy. Resisting them is not.
Makes 6 Servings
■ 1 pound of Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
■ 1/3 cup milk
■ 1/3 cup water
■ 6 tablespoons plus 1 tsp butter
■ 1 teaspoon salt
■ 1 1/4 teaspoon sugar
■ 1 cup flour
■ 3 large eggs
■ Salt and pepper
■ Vegetable oil, about 2 liters
■ Instant-read thermometer (optional)
Place the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by one inch. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender when tested with a knife. Drain the water. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl, using a ricer, food mill or potato masher. (A ricer or food mill yields the smoothest texture.)
While the potatoes are cooking, combine the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
If using a stand-up mixer, transfer the dough to the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon. Add the eggs to the dough, one at a time, ensuring each egg is well incorporated before adding another. The mixture is ready when the dough forms a thick ribbon from your paddle or spoon. If the mixture is too firm, add an additional egg.
Add the mashed potatoes and combine with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into a deep saucepan at least four inches of oil. Heat the oil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by adding a small cube of bread: if the bread sizzles and turns golden in about a minute, the oil is ready.
It takes a bit of practice to form the mixture into perfect quenelles, or small oval shapes, but once you’ve made a few you’ll get the hang of it. Take a generous spoonful of dough with one spoon and, in your other hand hold an identical spoon. Holding the spoons vertically and close to the scoop end (rather than the handle end), alternate the mixture from spoon to spoon, following the contour of the spoon as you transfer the dough back and forth until the mixture is smooth and oval-shaped.
Carefully lower the quenelles, one at a time, into the hot fat, being mindful not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning them occasionally to ensure they are evenly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a wire rack lined with a paper towel.
Sprinkle with salt while still warm. Serve immediately.
Join The Discussion