Everyone’s favorite part of any casserole is the crispy edges. Brownies? Same. The perfect ratio between crispy edge and gooey inside. Unfortunately, there are only so many edges to go around. The corner piece of lasagna is always the most coveted. If more than four people are seated at your table, you’d better be ready for a rock, paper, scissors match, because there’s gonna be a tussle.
People have tried to solve this conundrum by inventing silly (er, I mean “special”) pans to give every serving the desirable crisp edges. Um, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have room in my kitchen for magic brownie pans or other informercial-touted inventions. And besides, It’s just not the same.
When I scoped out this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I knew that I had found the medieval round table of all potato dishes. Unlike a typical gratin or scalloped potato bake, this dish allowed for equal edge-access to all parties.
I started by slicing the potatoes into little sheets, then flipped them on their sides and arranged them like little fans atop a layer of melted butter, olive oil and kosher salt. This step appealed to both my right and left brain. Then, I stuffed thinly sliced shallots between the layers of potato, wondering to myself if they would impart too harsh of a flavor. My worries melted away along with the shallots, which mellowed and softened, infusing the center of each potato slice with oniony sweetness.
After a drizzling of more olive oil and butter, and a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper, I set the pan in the oven for a luxuriously long roast. What emerged were tender, shallot-infused potatoes hugged between the crunchy rounded edges of the potato tops, and the bottoms of the slices, which bound together into a crisp golden sheet. Edges. Everywhere! I couldn’t contain my excitement, even in front of my dinner guests.
Without the fight for the coveted corner piece, chivalry reigns once again, and classy dinner get-togethers can resume, tussle-free.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly with a sharp knife or mandoline
- 4 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch thyme, leaves picked, stems discarded
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and oil.
- Pour about a tablespoon of the butter/oil mixture into the bottom of your chosen pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a few pinches of kosher salt and black pepper. Arrange the potato slices vertically in the dish.
- Tuck the shallot slices between the potato slices, distributing them as evenly as possible. Drizzle the entire dish with the remainder of the oil/butter mixture. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake for 1¼ hours. Scatter the thyme leaves on top of the potatoes, and continue to bake until the potatoes are cooked through and crisped on top, about 35 minutes more. Serve while hot.