The Small French Potato That's Best For Pomme Purée

Chef Joël Robuchon created one of the most luxurious and rich dishes — pomme purée. He was inspired by the pomme purée he ate growing up in France that his mother and grandmother made. With this French version of mashed potatoes, he elevated a common side dish to the next level with its indulgent use of whole milk and lots and lots of butter. The result is incredibly creamy and delicious. This elegant dish, which Robuchon is often best remembered for, relies on just four ingredients. In addition to butter and milk, he used salt and, of course, potatoes. In such a simple dish, quality counts when it comes to each ingredient.

Unlike American recipes for mashed potatoes, which call for starchy varieties like russets, Robuchon preferred to use a potato from his native France. This special spud served as the basis for his legendary dish, and many other chefs, such as Thomas Keller, have followed Robuchon's lead.

These potatoes make great pomme purée

We're talking about the small French fingerling potato called La Ratte. What makes these potatoes so special? This variety, which is also known as Asparges and La Reine, has a firm texture and a buttery and slightly nutty taste that has been compared to hazelnuts. Thomas Keller also praises this spud's special talent for taking in all of the butter and cream he likes to use in his version of pomme purée.

Farmers in France and Denmark started growing these little beauties in the 1800s, but they fell out of favor for a while before being brought back in the 1960s. Robuchon helped increase their popularity in the 1980s when he started using La Ratte potatoes for his famous pomme purée. While they are not as readily available as other types of potatoes, it's worth the effort to try to track them down in specialty markets. They may also be available in farmers' markets during their peak time of spring and summer. If you have no luck, you can always try Yukon Gold potatoes — a popular substitute for them — in pomme purée.