Nanna's potato bake just got an upgrade. This is the love child of smoky Indian gunpowder potatoes and the French potato pave. I am here for it. And you should be too. The spices are subtle but present, but you can still expect the calm, creamy potato-bake goodness so many of us love, with just a hint of smokiness. This side dish lends itself to all manner of Christmas spreads and the labour is small for the outcome, which is nothing short of baked-crispy-potato spectacular.
½ tbsp cumin seeds, toasted, roughly crushed
½ tbsp coriander seeds, toasted, roughly crushed
1.2kg floury potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthways using a mandolin
5 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
vegetable oil for frying
finely chopped coriander to scatter
Note: You will need to start this recipe at least 1 day ahead, or you can prepare them up to 3 days in advance and crisp them up on the day of serving. The longer they have a wallow in the fridge, weighed down with a few cans of tomatoes, the more snug and firm your potato stacks will be.
1. Preheat oven to 120C fan-forced (140C conventional). Generously line a deep roasting tin (about 34cm x 24cm) with baking paper ensuring you have a hand length's worth of overhang on each end.
2. To a large bowl, add the cream and ground spices and mix with a fork. Add the potato slices and stir gently to coat – you may like to slice the potatoes directly into the cream as you go, to prevent the potatoes from browning.
3. Layer the potato slices in the lined tin, dolloping cubes of butter here and there, making sure the potato layers are as even as possible as you build them up. I don't have the patience to trim potatoes to fit the tray exactly but as long as your potato layers are mostly level, you will still get stellar results.
4. Fold over the overhanging ends of baking paper to cover the potatoes then wrap the tin tightly in foil. Bake for 2 hours or until completely tender when you prick with a knife.
5. Allow to cool slightly. At this stage you want to weigh down your potatoes for their overnight rest in the fridge. Trim a piece of cardboard to fit the top of the potato bake, cover the cardboard in foil, and place on top of the baking paper. Pop in the fridge overnight – or for up to 2 days – weighed down with 3 cans of tomatoes or similar.
6. Remove from the fridge and remove the weights and cardboard. Using the baking paper overhang, gently remove the potato from the tin onto a chopping board. Using a knife, trim the edges and cut into 12-14 pieces and let them come to room temperature. (You could portion the potato to this point and return to the fridge the night before Christmas.)
7. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, the oil should be ½-cm deep. Add the potato stacks in batches, cut side down, and cook, basting with the hot oil in the pan, until browned. Turn and carefully cook the opposite side until browned and crisp. (Note: you can carefully crisp the other sides too, but the more you turn them, the more opportunity there is for them to fall apart.)
8. Drain on paper towel while you repeat with remaining pave pieces. Arrange the potato stacks on a platter. Scatter with finely chopped fresh coriander and season generously with salt before serving.
This recipe features in our Australian Christmas menu.