Sunday, November 04, 2007

The mandoline workout - gaufrettes

Gaufrettes refer to several edible wonders depending on which part of Europe you hail from.. they can be a sweet French biscuit, a Belgian waffle, or these savoury treats, like Gamelle's, made from potatoes.  I've also made them sturdier to line small ramekins similar to Bea's timbale. When turned out to serve, they make a stunning cover to herbed goat's cheese, pancetta and asparagus.

They also look lovely curled as a garnish. And, of course, they are delicious on their own.

I adore potatoes. There are so many ways to prepare them but crisps (or chips in North America), something I considered a treat as a child, remain a guilty snack that is still without substitute. Although wonderfully crisp when fried (using the oil blanching technique), I'm not as keen nowadays, however infrequently, to tuck into a bag or deep fry for all the obvious health reasons.  My solution: bake-fry my home-grown potatoes and sprinkle them with savoury rosemary salt.

To make gaufrettes, a mandoline is essential. I have a Bron and love it.  I use it regularly to slice everything from aubergine to zucchini and now it's time to give the humble potato a go. Pick a suitable potato type for the purpose and slice on the ridged blade, giving the potato a quarter turn each time to attain the lovely waffle pattern. There is a fine balance between thin and having them stick to the pan (not as much a concern with frying) so I slice just thin enough to achieve the holes. I place the slices in cold water until they are all sliced to prevent browning (and sticking together when frying) if I am making more than a small batch. To dry the potatoes of their starch or water (if soaked), I just lay them out on a tea towel and, in the meantime, prep a small batch of rosemary salt.

For the flavoured salt: In a mortar and pestle, grind some coarse sea salt (about a Tablespoon) and a sprig of rosemary (trimmed of woody bits and given a quick chop) until about the texture of regular table salt. If you don't like the rosemary bits (again, not ideal for frying or if you plan to store leftover salt for another use) don't chop it so that you can remove it whole or sieve it out. I like the smattering of rosemary over the gaufrettes so I leave it right in.

Place the gaufrettes on a lightly oiled tray, or alternatively, if you've got one of those refillable oil spray bottle thingies, give the tray and potatoes a liberal spritz, a healthy dose of rosemary salt and bake at 180C (or a little more if you are able to keep a close watch on the action in the oven - but not too hot). I give them a good shake and turn a few times as the baking process can take awhile and prefer a slower cook to prevent over browning/burning on the edges. I don't bother to peel them which is why they look quite toasty in the picture.

Break out a deck of cards, open a favourite brew and once these cool a little (they'll get increasingly crisp as they cool), enjoy! Just don't use the last of your potatoes, because you might be back in the kitchen making another batch when these are devoured.

Salute!

4 comments:

jenjen said...

Mary, tell us about your mandoline, what brand is it, where did you buy it?
There seem to be lots of the market, but how to choose a good one?

Nigel said...

Cheers for the salt recipe, Mary - that's a keeper.

Mary said...

Hi Jenjen,
I did a fair amount of research before buying, because you’re right, there are many to choose from! Based on what I would use it for, how often and how much I was willing to spend, I bought a Bron (Chef model) from a Restaurant supply store.
There are good quality but simpler models out there that will do the trick though, depending on what you're after. Interchangable plates instead of fussing with blades, even dishwasher safe! Then there are spiral continous slicers and Japanese mandolines for some adventurous slicing!
The Bron (when well cared for), has thus far been durable, versatile and as it's stainless, easy to clean.
I'd check out some online shops before venturing out just to have an idea of what is out there and approximate pricing. Good luck!

Hi Nigel,
I also make it with any number of heartier herbs, lavender, and lemon zest of course. I'd read about it before but really got the idea from a flatmate in Dunedin who was always making peppercorn salt powder by smashing salt, Sichuan peppercorns, and sometimes chiles too. She'd dry roast everything in a cast iron frypan until aromatic before using the communal coffee grinder to mix it up. I pity the poor unknowing student who made coffee immediately afterward!

Gamelle said...

Hello , Mary;
Thanks for the ling to gamelleprod. And Happy Christmas time from Paris (France)