Saturday, July 30, 2011

Potatoes Parmentier

French food intimidates me.  Notwithstanding a few rare forays into Julia Child's repertoire, it makes me nervous.  Really. Truth told, I'm loathe to make anything that I can't pronounce.  I grew up in Texas where French is simply useless.   Let's face it, it's pretty stupid to learn how to speak French--what with several million Spanish speakers just over the border.  Even in highschool, where most Americans get some smattering of a foreign language, that cute guy in Chemistry spoke Spanish, so I never learned how to speak French.  For years I thought that oui was pronounced "OY"--a sure sign that one of Israel's Twelve Tribes had actually migrated from France.  The thought of practically having to take a Berlitz course at the same time that I'm cooking is simply overwhelming.   I've wandered instead over to Italian cuisine where no one really expects you to properly pronounce the food, and even if they do, you can reasonably fake it by moving your hands around alot and adding and a to most-a what you-a say-a.  (And yes, I fully recognize the political incorrectness of that last sentence, but I'm Italian, so I can run with the stereotype).  I just figured that if it's too difficult to say, then it's way too difficult to make.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered potatoes parmentier.   It's no accident that they are named after Antoine Parmentier, an 18th century French chemist, who convinced the snooty French that the potato was worthy of entry into their haute cuisine.  Apparently, in order to get the reluctant French to try the dirty little tuber, a recipe had to be devised that didn't require a full day of effort in the kitchen.  He succeeded. Potatoes parmentier are incredibly easy to make--even if I still can't pronounce them.

Potatoes Parmentier

1. Peel and dice into small 1/4 inch cubes about 20 small potatoes. 

2. Melt a stick of butter in a large saute pan.  (This is a FRENCH dish; of course there's butter.  In fact, while you're at it, get in the mood and pour yourself a glass of bordeaux).

3. Saute the potatoes until they are tender and slightly golden.

4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Finish with about 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley.

6. Don't embarrass yourself by calling them pototoes par-men-tee-ER.  Hold your held high while you simultaneously look down your nose, and repeat after me: potatoes par-men-ti-EH.

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