Purée de Pommes de Terre

Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

Appears in

Everything on the Table

Everything on the Table

By Colman Andrews

Published 1992

  • About

Why not try real three-star cooking at home? This is my translation (and slight adaptation) of Joël Robuchon’s recipe for his famous mashed potatoes, as served at his almost religiously revered (and in my opinion highly overrated) three-star Jamin in Paris. The recipe comes from Robuchon’s book Ma Cuisine pour vous, and is not to be confused with the version offered in Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joël Robuchon. The two are substantially different. Among other things, Robuchon specifies particularly waxy potatoes, while Wells counsels floury ones; Robuchon cooks the potatoes peeled, Wells unpeeled; and while Wells notes that the purée may be made up to an hour in advance and kept warm in a double boiler, Robuchon warns, “la purée n’attend pas et ne se réchauffe pas” (the purée doesn’t wait and doesn’t reheat).

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ladyfinger, yellow Finnish, or white rose potatoes* of approximately the same size, peeled
  • Salt
  • 10 ounces ( sticks) unsalted butter, cut into slices about ½″ thick
  • 7 ounces hot whole milk or half-and-half (do not allow to boil)

Method

Place potatoes in a kettle or large saucepan, then cover with cold water to a height of about 1” above the potatoes. Add about teaspoon salt per quart of water to pot, then bring to a gentle boil and cook uncovered until potatoes are easily pierced by a sharp knife.

Quickly drain potatoes and pass them through the fine sieve of a food mill, then return them to the pot.

Cook purée briefly over very low flame, stirring constantly, to evaporate moisture, then add the butter and beat it vigorously into the purée with a wooden spatula.

Stir in hot milk little by little, mixing very well as you do so. Add salt to taste.§ Serve immediately.

*Robuchon specifies a waxy, yellow-fleshed French potato known as B.F. 15; to the best of my knowledge, these are unavailable in the United States. The closest equivalent, in texture if not in color, is the ladyfinger, which, like the B.F. 15, is a small, elongated potato. If these aren’t available, white rose and yellow Finnish potatoes work reasonably well.
Robuchon’s recipe calls for 250 grams of butter (just over ½ pound), but he notes that quantity can be increased to as much as 500 grams, which is slightly more than 1 pound. When I’ve had this purée at Robuchon’s restaurant, it seems so intensely buttery to me that I’d wager he uses more rather than less.
‡ “Il est très important de la travailler énergiquement pour la rendre élastique,” notes Robuchon. In other words, give it hell.
§ Robuchon says that the reason he recommends adding so much salt to the cooking water is so that it won’t be necessary to take the extra step of reseasoning the purée at the end.