Pommes Sarladais – French garlic potatoes

In my mental spreadsheet of The Very Best Things You Can Do With A Potato (everyone should have one of these), Pommes Sarladais come in near, if not at, the very top. If you visit the Dordogne region of France, you’ll find these on every menu; in this area where duck and goose farming is so common, and the fat from those birds so ubiquitous in cookery, this preparation of potatoes comes as naturally as breathing.

This is an intensely rich, garlicky recipe. The peeled potatoes are par-boiled, then sautéed in generous amounts of duck or goose fat until golden and crisp. In the last few minutes, pulverised garlic is briskly stirred through the hot fat and crunchy potatoes, and finally the finished dish is tossed with a handful of aromatic, fresh parsley. This is an ideal accompaniment for duck confit, roast chickens, dense and boozy stews – almost anything rich and European. (Insert Silvio Berlusconi joke here.)

Choose a floury potato for this recipe. I like King Edward potatoes here – if you can’t find any, try Desiree, which have a pleasant sweetness that works well against the robust flavour of the garlic. I’m recommending a more generous amount of potato per person than you might expect here, simply because this is so tasty that people do tend to overeat. The semolina dusting doesn’t make it into the standard French recipe, but I gave it a whirl after hearing about the Nigella Lawson semolina trick with English roast potatoes, and found that it raises the golden crispiness to a simply heavenly level around the soft interior of each bite – this dish is the mouth-feel equivalent of about 80 naked, silky angels bopping lewdly to the best bits of ABBA. Admittedly, Pommes Sarladais are full of all those things you’re meant to be avoiding after Christmas like animal fat and carbs, but I’m convinced that the joyful endorphins you’ll produce while munching on them more than make up for that. So to serve four, you’ll need:

1kg King Edward or Desiree potatoes
5 heaping (and I mean heaping) tablespoons duck or goose fat
5 large, juicy cloves garlic
1 large (hand-sized) bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon semolina flour
Generous amounts of salt

Peel the potatoes, and cut them into squares of about 1 inch. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop the potatoes in. Bring back to the boil and simmer for four minutes. While the potatoes are simmering, bring the duck or goose fat to a high temperature in your very largest frying pan. (If you don’t have one large enough to house all the potato chunks in a single layer, split the dish between two pans.)

Drain the potatoes well in a colander, and return them to the saucepan you parboiled them in. Sprinkle over a heaped tablespoon of semolina flour and toss the potatoes well. The semolina should be coating the potato chunks unevenly – tossing the potatoes will have caused their edges to bang up against each other and become craggy and fluffy.

Ladle the semolina-coated potatoes into the hot fat in a single layer. Cook, turning every few minutes, until the potatoes are evenly crisp and gold (about 20 minutes). As you turn, you may feel that the pan is becoming dry – if this is the case, add another tablespoon of duck or goose fat.

While the potatoes are cooking, pulverise the garlic by crushing or grating. When the potatoes are gold, add the garlic to the pan and toss the potatoes around the pan for four minutes to make sure all the garlic cooks and is distributed throughout the whole dish.

Remove the cooked potatoes to a large bowl and toss with the chopped parsley and a generous sprinkling of salt (these can take a lot of salting, which is an excellent excuse to do some tasting as you season). Serve immediately.

14 Replies to “Pommes Sarladais – French garlic potatoes”

  1. O dear. I tried this recipe at the weekend. Instead of putting a skillet on the hob I decided to cook the potatoes in a tray in the oven, at a really high heat. When the pools of fat weren’t reducing in volume i decided to put the tray on the hob after all. After a few minutes i heard a sickening craaaack! the tray had split on the hob and the fat started flaming up! I managed to quench the flames with a wet cloth but not before filling my apartment with cloudy smoke!!

    Not to mention the poor potatoes!

    I did ascertain that my fire alarm wasn’t working though -:)

    I will give these a shot again but gonna follow instructions to the letter this time…

  2. Liz,sorry to say your info on Dordogne restaurants is out of date.Very few serve Pommes Sarladais and if they do they are likely to be soggy and greasy.Sad to say the glory days of the archetypal French family restaurant are no more.On a happier note I suggest mixing in some cepes when in season,scrummy.

  3. Oh dear – sorry about the kitchen disaster. The cooking instructions are there for a *reason*, people.

    Scott – I know exactly how you feel. On which note, I need a new piping bag.

    Mike – what a shame. I’ll agree that places like Sarlat seem to have become totally tourist-fied now, but you can still find fantastic local cooking if you look hard enough. I love the Hotel Laborderie, a little auberge in Tamnies, where they still cook pommes Sarladais which taste like manna from heaven.

  4. Pommes sarladaise are one of Madame's specialities and I agree totally with every word of your description.
    Pseuds Corner someone said..? They obviously have never tried this.

  5. I have a cottage near Sarlat and understand to a certain extent about the tourists.
    Quite near Sarlat and still in the Dordogne is the Correze town of Brive la Gaillarde.
    Opposite the railway station, to the left is a logis ‘La France’ apart from inexpensive
    rooms the restaurante serves the most superbe duck always accompanied with ‘Pommes Sarladaise’
    Always ask for an extra dish of sarladaise. You will be in Heavan.

  6. I am in awe ! By chance, I was browsing confit of duck recipes and saw pommes sarladais – by chance I happened upon your blog – why is it such a well kept secret ?!!!!!!! Fabulous foodie ideas and I’m steadily working my way thru the months of mouthwatering recipes – thank you so much !

  7. I have to agree with David I’m a British ex-pat living near Domme 8 miles from Sarlat and Pommes Sarladaise in this region, is as he says seventh heaven. On the airport run to Brive de la Dordogne to pick up relatives from the UK in the summer we go of route normally and stop at Brive la Gaillarde on the way back and that restaurant is now definitely on our hit list to stop at. Thanks David

  8. The recipe you give is actually for ‘pommes confits’. To get ‘pommes sarladais’ you need to add cepes. At least according to “Oscar’s” in Le Bugue, who make these very well. They also do a great ‘Tourain’ which is a garlic soup.

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