This classic French dish transforms humble spuds into an elegant side dish of crispy, golden rounds. The fresh herbs are not traditional, but I love how they infuse the potatoes with fragrance—and they’re pretty, especially when you use small, individual leaves.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, divided use
Olive oil as needed
3 large russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
2–3 tablespoons fresh sage, thyme and oregano leaves
1. Heat 2 tablespoons butter with a generous drizzle of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until butter melts and just starts to foam, then shut off heat.
2. Using a mandoline slicer, slice the potatoes into very thin (but not paper-thin) slices.
3. Arrange the slices tightly, carefully shingling the rounds around the pan in concentric circles, starting at the outer edge of the pan and working your way into the center. Season the first layer with a little salt and a scattering of the fresh herbs. Repeat with each potato and remaining herbs until you achieve three tight layers.
4. Turn the heat back on at medium under the pan. Drizzle the potatoes with another generous pour of olive oil and dot pats of the remaining butter around the pan. Season with salt.
5. When the ingredients begin to sizzle, place a lid on the pan and seal tightly for a couple minutes (this will steam the potatoes and help them soften). Remove the lid and swirl the pan to see if the potatoes are binding together as their starch begins to heat up. If they slip loosely and lose their shape, tuck the slices back into the tight circle using a heat-proof rubber spatula and allow to cook longer uncovered. (You should hear the potatoes sizzling.)
6. When the potatoes start to turn golden and crisp, swirl the pan again to confirm that the potato layers have formed a cake, and then flip the entire cake and cook the other side until golden and crispy.
7. Slide onto serving plate or cutting board, season with salt and cut into wedges.
Don’t be tempted to soak the slices in water before assembly; you’ll wash off the necessary starch that binds them together. The only tricky part is flipping the cake. For best results, use a slope-sided skillet, or place a large serving plate over the pan and use two hand towels to invert the skillet —then slide the cake back into the skillet.