Pro Chef Inspirations
“Potatoes are a quintessential American ingredient,” says Chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce Restaurant in San Francisco. “Few ingredients come close to their versatility and ability to carry other flavors.” Here the nutritious and versatile potato is featured in two of his distinctive recipes – one that celebrates the fall transition, and one that’s perfect for cool, autumn nights.
Provençal Potato and Vegetable Tart
Using a simple crust, this lighter recipe is a great way to feature end-of-summer vegetables. Here Chef Sullivan alternates thin layers of potatoes with late-season eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and sweet peppers.
In the days before gas ovens, French Villagers once prepared a flavorful dish reserved for special celebrations. They would bring lamb and potatoes to their local village baker, who cooked them together in his bread oven. The lamb roasted on a rack above so that juices from the meat would flow down and flavor the potatoes.
Chef Sullivan serves this festive dish during the fall and winter months. “You can create this type of dish with all kinds of proteins, including chicken and beef, but there’s no substitute for potatoes and their unique ability to create the starch which emulsifies the ingredients.” says Chef Sullivan.
One of his favorite variations is made with leg of lamb, cooked above Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into one-inch rounds. He tops the potatoes with rendered guanciale (pancetta may also be used), onions, thyme, sherry and veal or beef stock. As the lamb cooks and the juices drip into the Yukon Golds, the potato starch emulsifies and binds the ingredients together, creating a delicious glaze. The result – a fragrant and memorable addition to the dinner menu.