Pavé- The Humble Gratin Elevated

Pavé- The Humble Gratin Elevated

A French term most often used in reference to a square or rectangular-shaped serving of food. The term “pavé” translates as “little pavers” or “cobblestone.”

The pavé probably also has roots in the gratin, that dish your mother or grandmother or aunt would bring to Christmas dinner. Russets, whether in mashed potatoes, gratin or this pavé, takes on fat (cream and butter) and salt like almost nothing else.

I first tried pavé with my buddy Iron Phil who told me of his first experience back in 2016 at a winemaker dinner with Chef and culinary mentor, Philip Collins (not that one).

The beauty of pavé is the simplicity. You don’t need a boutiquy flowery yellow or red-skinned potato as the humble russet is not only preferred, but perfect due to it’s structure and starch.

The recipe below is loosely taken from Thomas Keller, with inputs (no kidding) from Martha Stewart.


5, large russets
1 cup heavy cream
2 t fresh thyme leaves
1 t salt and pepper
1/2 t fresh ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves

Pour heavy cream into a bowl and add s and p, thyme and nutmeg.

Cut your russets into a rectangle and then pass through mandolin at roughly 2 millimeters thick directly to cream mixture. Toss and aggressively coat.

Take your favorite loaf pan and rub with butter (all sides) and coat parchment paper inside (becomes “handles” later).

Place a layer of potatoes “hamburger” style in the loaf pan, overlapping slightly by half, front to back. Repeat for up to 22 layers or until done. When complete, place two bay leaves on top and fold over overlapping parchment. Bake at 350 for 100 minutes. Take out and let cool on counter.

Take piece of cardboard from one of your Amazon boxes, cut to shape of loaf pan, cover cardboard and wrap with foil and then weight it down with your canned goods to press the pavé down and then place in fridge for a minimum of 6 hours but ideally overnight.

Carefully remove cans, cardboard, and parchment. Cut into “slices,” approximately 1/2 inch thick.

When ready to serve, pan fry over medium-high heat with duck fat, bacon fat (ideally) or canola for approximately 3-4 minutes per side. After you flip, you could throw in a smashed clove or two of garlic and some fresh rosemary and a pad of butter and be very happy. Serve immediately.

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