Fondant potatoes – or Melting Potatoes – are potatoes baked in a buttery herb infused broth so it absorbs the flavour and becomes meltingly tender inside. A restaurant-y way to cook potatoes that’s easy yet looks impressive! Excellent dinner party side dish.
Fondant potatoes aka Melting potatoes
Today’s recipe is a sublime example of turning the humble potato into a very fine-dining worthy potato side dish. Putting the shaping part aside (which is entirely optional, we’ll get to that), it’s incredibly straight forward. Just brown neat cylinders/thick wonky slabs of potato on the stove, add stock, thyme and butter then bake so it absorbs the flavour.
The result? Crispy edges, golden surfaces, creamy and flavoured all the way through inside, with intense herb infused-buttery sauce that’s thickened from the natural starches in the potato. This might be my favourite potato recipe of all time!
Ingredients in fondant potatoes
Here’s what you need to make fondant potatoes:
Potato type – All-rounder and floury / starchy potatoes are best because they absorb flavour better than waxy potatoes, and become beautifully fluffy and soft inside. The most common potatoes at regular stores should be fine – they’re stocked because they’re great all-rounders.
Australia – Sebago (the dirt brushed potatoes sold everywhere) are perfect, Desiree are great too. US: Russet, UK: King Edward.
Butter – Unsalted, cut into cubes so they melt evenly. If you don’t, some of the butter will likely burn before it all melts. This is for basting. We use oil for searing the potatoes (butter burns and doesn’t brown the potatoes as evenly).
Stock/broth – Chicken stock adds the best flavour in my opinion, because it has more savouriness than vegetable stock and is “cleaner” than beef stock. However, vegetable stock is the next best. Though really, this recipe will work with any type of stock.
Thyme – Fresh thyme sprigs work best to infuse the butter / stock with flavour. But you can substitute with dried thyme though you will end up with little thyme bits stuck on your potato.
How to cut fondant potatoes
Choose from pro level to easy – or skip it entirely! Just peel potatoes then cut into thick slabs. It will taste just as good!
GOAL SIZE & PREP
Goal: 8 cylinders that are ~ 6cm/ 2.4″ diameter, 3.5 cm / 1.4″ height, 2 each cut from 4 potatoes (ie cut 4 long cylinders then cut to size).
Trim base – For all methods, the first step is to peel the potatoes then trim a bit off the top and bottom so it stands upright. It just makes it easier to handle.
1. PRO-LEVEL CARVING
For knife masters! This is method will achieve the smoothest edges.
Lie the potato on its side then carve, peeling curved strips to make a cylinder shape.
Keep going, carving thinner and thinner slices until you have a uniform cylinder.
2. INTERMEDIATE: UPRIGHT KNIFE SHAVING
Stand the potato upright. Then cut thin slivers down, rotating as you go, until you have a cylinder shape with edges are as smooth as you can make them. At first, mine are a bit octagon-shaped. Then I just keep trimming thin slivers off the sharp edges to smooth it out.
TIP: Use the back of a knife (ie the non-sharp side) and scrape down the sides of the potato to make the walls neat.
3. eASY: POTATO PEELER
Use a potato peeler to shave strips off the sides, rotating as you go, to shape it into a cylinder as best you can. I find this a little more difficult to make a uniform cylinder shape than using a knife because I find I have less control over how much I shave off with each peel. Also, peeling straight is a little harder.
4. EASY: ROUND CUTTER
Use a 6cm / 2.4″ (or as close as possible) cutter to pop rounds out. The easiest way to do this is to cut 3.5 cm / 1.4″ thick slices then press a round out of each. If your cutter is not tall enough, then use a knife to help trim / pull the excess away (I demo this in the video).
5. JUST DON’T!!
Just cut the potato into 3.5 cm / 1.4″ thick slices and cook per the recipe. It tastes the same, the potato pieces just won’t be perfect rounds (unless you’re lucky!). You won’t need all the potatoes because your pieces will be bigger (unless you use smaller potatoes). Just use enough to fill the pan around the same amount as pictured. Don’t be tempted to squeeze more in because there won’t be enough stock to flavour the inside of the potatoes.
How to make fondant potatoes
Cutting part done, the cooking part is EASY!
Season – Toss the potatoes in a little oil with salt and pepper.
Brown potatoes – Then brown them on the stove using an oven-proof skillet. I use my 26cm / 10.5″ Lodge cast iron pan. It will take a good 6 to 8 minutes on each side to make them golden, on medium high heat. Move them around as needed to brown them as evenly as possible.
Butter – Add the butter and thyme, then spoon the melted butter over the potatoes.
Stock – Pour the stock in and let it come to a boil.
Bake – Transfer the skillet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, basting the potato with the buttery stock at the 15 minute mark (ie spooning the sauce over the potatoes). In this step, the potatoes are absorbing the stock which flavours the inside and makes it “meltingly” soft.
Ready! At the end of the bake time, there should be virtually no stock left in the pan, just butter. Because potatoes can’t absorb fat. The butter will be slightly thickened thanks to the starch in the potatoes, making a glossy sauce that clings to the potatoes when you spoon it over.
To serve, transfer the potatoes to individual plates or a serving platter for people to help themselves. And pour over every drop of the buttery sauce!
What to serve with fondant potatoes
I feel like it would be easier to say what not to serve with fondant potatoes. 🙂 With the subtle thyme flavour, I wouldn’t serve this with Asian food. But without the thyme, it would be a delicious side dish for Char Sui Pork (Chinese BBQ Pork), Sticky Honey Soy Baked Chicken or a grand Miso Marinated side of salmon !
Asian food aside, this is an elegant, beautiful potato side dish for special occasions. It’s pictured in this post alongside steak with Béarnaise Sauce (it’s so easy!) with last weeks’ Garlic Peas. It would elevate a simple Chicken in Creamy Mustard Sauce to company-worthy, or add a luxurious side to a simple pan fried fish sprinkled with seafood seasoning.
You could also cook this in the oven at the same time as a roast chicken or a grand prime rib (standing rib roast). Just put the potatoes in for the last 35 minutes cooking time, factoring in the resting time. Err on the side of caution so the potatoes are done earlier because they can be reheated simply by popping the skillet back in the oven for 5 minutes (from room temperature, it will take longer from fridge cold).
Or, just do as I do and eat them by themselves. You know I did. The only question is, how many? TAKE A GUESS! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
OF COURSE Dozer got some!!! I just forgot to edit that in, concentrating too hard on getting the new-style video edits right. Everybody knows Dozer is the most food-spoiled dog in the world!!!😂
Fondant Potatoes (Melting potatoes)
- 4 x 400g/14 oz large floury potatoes , peeled (Aus: Sebago (dirt brushed), US: Russet, UK: King Edward)
- 3/4 tsp cooking salt / kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp / 50g unsalted butter , cut into 1cm / 1/2″ cubes
- 6 thyme sprigs (sub 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 cup chicken stock / broth , low sodium (or vegetable)
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 390°F (180°C fan-forced).
- Carve / cut each potato into cylinders ~ 6cm/ 2" diameter, 7 cm height. Then cut in half so you have 8 short cylinders 3.5 cm / 1.4" tall. See cutting method options below.
- Season – Pat potato dry. Place in a large bowl and toss with half the oil plus all the salt and pepper.
- Sear – In an ovenproof heavy based skillet (Note 2), heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Put the potato in and cook each side for 6 – 8 minutes or until golden.
- Cook – Add butter and thyme. Once melted, spoon the butter over the potato ("basting"). Add stock, bring to a boil then transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender, basting at the 15 minute mark. The stock will be absorbed by the potato, leaving just butter.
- Serve – Baste one more time then serve! For a restaurant-y option, serve alongside steak with béarnaise sauce and buttered peas.
Cutting method options (see video for demo of each):
- Prep for all methods – Trim a bit off both ends so the potato stands upright. Once carved into a tall cylinder 6cm/ 2" diameter, at least 7cm/3" height, so we can cut into 3.5 cm / 1.4" tall pieces. Save leftover potato to make mash (keep in water to prevent turning brown).
- Pro method – Lie potato on its side and use a knife to carve around to form a cylinder.
- Intermediate (I do this)– Stand potato upright and use a knife to shave thin slivers down, rotating as needed, to carve into a cylinder. You can use a potato peeler for some of this too (just be a bit careful, less control).
- Easy – Use 6cm/ 2" (or as close as possible) wide cutters to press rounds out!
- Easy potato peeler – Use a potato peeler to shape as best you can, rotating as you go.
- Doesn't matter! – Just cut potatoes into 3.5cm / 1.4" thick slices! Even if your rounds are not so round, it will still taste delicious. Only cut enough to fill the pan, as pictured, else you'll have too much potato for the stock being used (flavour dilution),
More fabulous potato sides!
And some no-fuss Monday nights ones too. 🙂 (Like Easy Roast Potatoes).
Life of Dozer
Memories of ALL the food he got during the making of Dinner!