Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recipe: La truffade (potato cake with cheese and bacon)

Don't just reheat that bowl of leftover mashed potatoes day after day this year. Fried potato pancakes made from that Thanksgiving leftover, with a little cheese and bacon added, gives you an entirely new and satisfying taste.

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from "The Country Cooking of France" by Anne Willan and France Ruffenach. Slab bacon for the lardons is available at Gelson's and Whole Foods markets and can be special-ordered at Bristol Farms stores and Bob's Market in Santa Monica.

5-ounce piece of lean bacon, cut crosswise into lardons (strips 1/4- by 1/4- by 1/2-inch thick) 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 pounds baking potatoes, thinly sliced Salt, pepper 8 ounces Cantal or Gruyère cheese, diced or cut into thin, narrow strips

1. In a 10-inch non stick frying pan, heat the lardons over medium heat until the fat runs, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let them brown. Remove them with a draining spoon and set aside. Melt the oil in the pan, add the potatoes, and sprinkle them with pepper. The bacon may contribute enough salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lardons and continue to cook, uncovered, over low heat, tossing or stirring often, until the potatoes are tender and some are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Don't worry if some of the potatoes are crushed, as they will help hold the mixture together as a cake.

2. Stir in the cheese, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Press down on the potatoes to level them in the pan. Turn the heat to high and let them cook without stirring until the bottom is browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Press on the cake occasionally to hold it together. When done, it should be brown around the edges and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Take the pan off the heat, run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake, and turn it out onto a warmed platter. Serve hot.