Why It Works
- Potatoes of a uniform, small size cook evenly and quickly.
- Resting the potatoes in the pan ensures they're cooked all the way through.
For this simple French-inspired side dish, new potatoes are gently cooked on the stovetop in nutty brown butter until tender, then sprinkled with sea salt and chives and served with tangy crème fraîche. This is what would happen if an American baked potato studied abroad in Paris for a semester.
- 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces; 113g), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see note)
- 1 pound (450g) small new potatoes, rinsed (see note)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- Sliced chives, for serving
- Crème fraîche, for serving
In a medium (3-quart) saucepan or saucier, melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes, a healthy pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, swirling saucepan and stirring frequently with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. Make sure potatoes remain in a single, even layer in the saucepan while cooking. Continue cooking and stirring until butter begins to foam rapidly and turns golden yellow, 5 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low; add herbs and garlic (if using). Continue stirring and turning potatoes occasionally to promote even browning. At this point, the butter should be golden brown. Regulate heat so butter simmers at a very gentle bubble and foams up when you stir it. (Depending on the strength of your burner, you may need to reduce heat from medium-low to low.) Continue cooking until potatoes are completely tender (poke a potato with a sharp paring knife or cake tester to test for doneness) and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let potatoes rest for 5 minutes in the saucepan.
Toss potatoes to coat them in brown butter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a serving bowl; reserve brown butter. Drizzle as much brown butter as you like over the potatoes and sprinkle with chives (if you like) and sea salt to taste. Serve immediately with crème fraîche for dipping.
Both American- and European-style butter will work for this recipe, but we recommend seeking out European-style butter, as its higher fat content produces a more richly flavored dish.
Look for potatoes that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you can only find larger ones, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
This recipe yields enough brown butter to sauce a main-course protein as well as the potatoes themselves.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The potatoes are best enjoyed immediately, but they can be stored in an airtight container with the brown butter and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.