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Potato Daube

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Richard Olney’s Potato Daube

potatoAccording to Richard Olney, the most accurate translation of the French word daube is “a mess.” Less literally, it means a peasant stew, one that can contain just about anything, especially whatever happens to be lying around. Olney’s recipe is a masterpiece of simplicity, and the daube that it produces, while far from haute cuisine, is nevertheless superb. When you open the oven, the smell of garlic, potatoes and olive oil that wafts out into your kitchen will make you wonder how such a trivial recipe could produce something that smells like that. And the taste lives up to the promise of the aroma.

• • •

Potato Daube (for 4 or 5) 5 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled 2 cups water Salt About 1/3 cup olive oil 2 pounds firm, yellow-fleshed potatoes, sliced to 1/4-inch thickness, wiped dry 3 or 4 European (not California) bay leaves Cook the garlic cloves in the salted water, at a simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, then purée the garlic through a sieve back into its cooking water. Rub an oven casserole with olive oil, pack in half the potatoes, distribute the bay leaves, salt lightly (or not at all, depending on the saltiness of the garlic water), add the remaining potatoes, and pour over the garlic water and purée — the potatoes should be well covered with liquid, but not drowned. Dribble olive oil over the surface and cook in a 400˚ oven for 45 or 50 minutes.

That’s the whole recipe, verbatim, from page 223 of Simple French Food. I would note that we’ve had to use a bit more than two cups of water, and that the casserole should be uncovered in the oven — but you probably figured that out.

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Written by Bear

February 3, 2008 at 5:38 am

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