Potato Timbale (Potato Cup Recipe)
Timbale means "drum" in French. Potato timbale is just a fancy name for a potato dish baked in a drum-shaped round mold. What I like about this dish is that it's very convenient when we host dinner parties because the servings are individual. Plus it makes a nice, appealing presentation.
Potatoes are par-boiled, sliced and placed in the shape of a round mold. Then, it's filled with whatever you like. I packed the potato cups with braised fennel, water chestnuts and blue cheese. This is what I call true comfort food if you want to serve a feast ("un repas de fête" in French) for Christmas.
Yields: 6 servings10 purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes, depending on the size
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb
3 ounces fresh water-chestnuts
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 jalapeño pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
How to cook water chestnuts:
Wash the chestnuts in cold water and then soak them in lukewarm water for about 30 minutes. With a paring knife, make a small criss-cross cut at the root of each water chestnut. Make sure the incision is not too deep so as not to cut the flesh of the chestnut.
Place the chestnuts in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool. As soon as they are not too hot to handle, shell the water chestnuts, then slice and cut them into small matchsticks. Set aside.
Par-boiling the potatoes (see tips): Brush and wash the potatoes. Place them whole in a large pot (no need to peel them). Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a full boil, they might fall apart). As soon as the water reaches a boil, cook for about 6-8 minutes. Test, using a fork; the potatoes should be slightly tender but still firm (they will finish cooking in the oven). Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate). Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, remove the skin. Cut them into ¼-inch slices.
Making potato cups:
Line 6 ramekins with parchment paper. Grease the paper with a thin layer of butter, then rub garlic on the bottom and inner sides of each ramekin. Pour a little bit of cream into the bottom of each dish.
Crush and finely minced the garlic. Set aside.
Place potato slices along the sides of the ramekins, using the parchment paper as a liner against the wall of the molds. Fill the gaps and bottom of the mold with more sliced potatoes. Gently press using a smaller round tin cake mold into the bottom and sides of the ramekin.
Prepping the fennel:
Discard the stalk of the fennel bulb (or keep for garnish) and thinly slice the bulb (see tips).
In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry until golden. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, add the shallots. When the color is translucent, add the roasted jalapeño pepper and the sliced fennel. Cook until slightly browned (about 5-7 minutes). Season with salt. Add the water chestnuts and 2 teaspoons of dill. Mix well, lower the heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add another ¼ cup of water (I didn't). Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the heavy cream, fried garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Fill the cavities with a layer of vegetables. Sprinkle a little bit of blue cheese. Drizzle a little bit of the cream mixture. Repeat the same procedure (vegetables, blue cheese and cream). Cover the top with sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining blue cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 375°F and then lower the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes.
When they're cooked, remove from the oven. Check the tenderness of the potatoes with a knife. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Gently remove the potato timbales from the ramekins. Discard the parchment paper. Garnish with dill and the sauce of your choice.
Serve with salad greens.
Parboiling means briefly boiling the potatoes. Think "par-tial" boiling = parboiling. You could skip this step but you'll have to bake the potatoes in the oven for a longer time.
Little reminder on how to roast a jalapeño pepper: Once you know how to make them yourself, you'll never buy the ones in a jar again. To start, cut the stem off the pepper. Wash, pat dry and brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Clean the pepper using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed it and finely chop the flesh. Voilà! But be sure not to rub your eyes after handling jalapeño peppers!)
Soaking the water chestnuts softens the shell. I bought these at the Asian market. If you can't find the fresh version, you can always use canned water chestnuts. They give a nice crunch to the filling.Published By: on December 22, 2010.