They will forever remind my of my father and I could think of no better way to say Happy Father's Day, dad, then with these little cakes. My father loves cooking. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned how much he loves it but I'd say that with exception to drinking fine wines, it might be his favorite thing to do. Whenever he comes out to visit for longer than a day or two, he always tries to get in a trip to the farmers market and a day in the kitchen. He relishes in spending the day coming up with dishes based on what looks the freshest and loves to pair unexpected items. He freestyles. In fact, I've actually never seen him follow a recipe. He's the guy who taught me to treat my salad making like an art form, to add and place each ingredient with care, and to be creative. Try new ingredients! If one idea fails, try again! While my appreciation for his enthusiasm and passion for culinary explorations took a bit of time to develop, I'm so grateful for all the lessons he's taught me over the years (in the kitchen and in life).
These little potato cakes are one of my fondest memories/lessons because I think they were one of the first things I was genuinely excited to learn how to make. I loved them enough that my dad renamed them in my honor to Pommes Alana. I can remember taking extra care to place each slice in the exact right spot, allowing for equal amounts of overlap, and plugging all holes so that they'd magically adhere to create a cake that was starchy, buttery, crispy, savory, and perfect every time. Today I've minified them and added some of his favorites, fennel and jamon serrano (they didn't have bellota, dad) but by all means, customize these to your liking. They're a vehicle for flavor, so in the spirit of my father, experiment to find the combinations that work best for your palate. Best part about these? They're fun to make with a partner, like, idk, maybe your dad? Happy Father's Day to my dad and to all the other awesome dads out there.
Mini Pommes Anna
Adapted from Bon Appétit and my dad
MAKES 12 Mini Pommes Anna
- 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick), unsalted butter
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 of a medium fennel bulb
- 1 garlic clove, minced or finely grated
- 1 1/4 lbs. small Yukon Gold or German Butterball potatoes (think slightly larger than a golf ball)
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2-4 slices jamon serrano, torn into small pieces
- 12 cavity muffin tin
- Parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Measuring spoons
- Glass measuring cup
- Mixing bowls
- Small saucepan
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Metal spatula
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush muffin cups all over with butter. Line bottoms with parchment-paper rounds. Brush round with butter. Arrange 1 small piece of jamon serrano in center of each round.
- Using mandoline, slice fennel bulb crosswise into very thin slices (less than 1/16-thick). Add half the fennel with the minced/finely grated garlic to remaining butter in saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the fennel is barely softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Using mandoline, slice potatoes crosswise into very thin rounds (less than 1/16-inch thick), distributing into two medium bowls as you go. Pour the butter mixture over the slices in one bowl and pour the olive oil over the slices in the second bowl; toss each to coat well.
- Layer slices into muffin cavities, overlapping slices to create a circular pattern and alternate between butter and oil. Place a slice of jamon serrano or fennel (according to personal preference) and sprinkle salt and/or pepper between each layer. Lightly press the center of each stack to make compact. Drizzle any remaining butter and olive oil from the bowls over stacks.
- Cover muffin pan tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, around 35 minutes. Remove foil; invert a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper over pan. Turn, lightly tapping on counter, releasing potatoes onto sheet. Rearrange any slices that may have fallen out. Using a metal spatula, carefully turn cakes, jamon serrano side facing down. Discard parchment rounds and cover sheet with foil.
- Increase heat to 425°. Uncover cakes if needed. Bake until bottoms and edges are golden and crispy, 25-30 minutes. Turn out cakes then carefully turn over so that the jamon side faces up.
- Serve and enjoy!