It's hard to imagine French home cooking without a dollop of creme fraiche, that silky, subtly tart cultured cream that has a way of making food taste better. In France, just about every home cook keeps it handy to enrich sauces, dress up cooked vegetables or balance the sweetness of desserts.
At A.O.C. in West Hollywood, chef Suzanne Goin mashes fingerling potatoes with butter and Italian parsley, then stirs in a generous dollop of house-made creme fraiche. Luscious, nutty and a little tangy, it's delicious with those earthy potatoes.
Jenn Garbee wrote this story for the Los Angeles Times, which provided the recipe analysis.
FINGERLING POTATOES WITH CREME FRAICHE AND CHIVES
Total time: 25 minutes
1 1/4 pounds small fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter ( 1/2 stick), cut into pieces
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
6 tablespoons creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons sliced chives, 1-inch long
Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least 4 inches. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced. Drain the potatoes and set aside, reserving a cup of the potato water. Return the potatoes to the pot over medium heat and smash them slightly with a hand masher. Add the butter and fleur de sel. Stir to coat the potatoes with the butter.
Add about 3 tablespoons of the reserved potato water to help coat and glaze the potatoes. Adjust seasonings and stir in the parsley.
To serve, place one-half cup potatoes on a serving plate. Top with a generous tablespoon of creme fraiche, a pinch of cracked black pepper and chives.
Per serving: 308 calories; 4 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 61 milligrams cholesterol; 238 milligrams sodium.
Adapted from chef-owner Suzanne Goin.