From America's Test Kitchen Season 2: Christmas Dinner
Traditional pommes Anna is rarely seen on home or restaurant menus these days because it takes an inordinately long time to compose, and it is hard to remove cleanly from the pan, resulting in an unsatisfactory time-consuming and messy dish. We wanted a foolproof, elegant potato cake with a crisp, deep brown crust covering the soft, creamy potato layers within. We used a nonstick skillet to ensure easy release of our potatoes. Most recipes for pommes Anna call for clarified butter, but we decided to cut down on time and waste (a good portion of the butter is lost with clarifying) and instead tossed the sliced potatoes with melted butter. To accelerate cooking, we arranged the potatoes in the skillet as it was heating on the stovetop; when we were done layering the slices, we pressed the potatoes with the bottom of a cake pan to compact them into a cohesive cake. To unmold, we simply inverted the potato cake onto a baking sheet and then slid it onto a serving dish.
Serves 6 to 8
Do not slice the potatoes until you are ready to start assembling. Remember to start timing when you begin arranging the potatoes in the skillet—no matter how quickly you arrange them, they will need 30 minutes on the stovetop to brown properly.