Have you ever thought that by renaming a dish it suddenly acquires a new dimension. I had the new name and was immediately thinking in terms of how I would present the dish.Jenga potatoes it was to be. Just as Christo had played a game with the Pont Neuf I was going to play a game with potatoes.Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill. During the game, players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses.What fun, and could this new presentation get children to eat their food. It becomes fun to eat-like playing with a puzzle on your plate, and replaces the old fashioned parental hoax of trying to encourage the child that if he ate his food he would be able to see the nursery rhyme picture on the bottom of the plate.
Pommes Pont Neuf are basically squat chips, thick-cut french fries cooked twice.They should be soft,fluffy and hot inside, and never so crispy that they shatter in all directions when you try to stick your fork in them.You need to use very floury potatoes.
How to cook Pont Neuf Potatoes
This recipe may seem a little long-winded but it really is worth it and on the other side, the majority of the work can be done in advance,one reason I like it.The potatoes can be cooked twice,then kept in the fridge for at least a week, before the final cooking.I used ground nut (peanut)oil as it is very pure and odourless.You could try goose or duck fat and they would be equally delicious.
1.5 kg potatoes,washed and peeled
1 litre groundnut (peanut) oilUsing a sharp kitchen knife,square off the potatoes into rectangular logs.Then cut them into chips about 1 cm thick.The length of the pieces is not so crucial, but you do want to keep them the same thickness,so that they cook at the same rate.Place them straight into a bowl of cold water and keep them there for about 10 minutes to rinse off some of the starch.Rinse again and drain.
STAGE 1 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and plunge in the drained potatoes. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes,or until the point of a knife easily penetrates the chips.Make sure the water is only just simmering;if it boils too agressively the potatoes will begin to break up before they are sufficiently cooked.
Using a slotted spoon,lift the potatoes carefully out of the and place them on some paper towel on a flat plate.Allow them to cool,then put them in the fridge until cold.The chips will harden as they cool.
STAGE 2 Heat the groundnut oil in a deep fat fryer or deep pan and heat to 130C/250F.Plunge in the chips.You may have to do this in batches.After about 5 minutes the chips will take on a dryer appearance before colouring( do not let them colour) they have now finished their second cooking.Drain,let them cool to room temperature and then put them back in the fridge.
STAGE 3 When cold,they are ready for their final cooking.Re-heat the oil to 180C/ 350F.Plunge in the chips and cook until golden brown( about 10-12 minutes)To get a crisp outside you need to patient.Drain and season with plentiful Flor de sal.Eat on their own with garlic aioli, mayonnaise, or any kind of ketchup or tomato relish.Alternatively serve as a side dish to fish or chicken.