1117 la table f637hz

Image: Ray Kuglar

Invest Hospitality, the company behind Houston’s French culinary emporium La Table, is also the licensee for all U.S. and South and Central American restaurants from world-famous chef Joël Robuchon. That’s likely how the rumor got started that La Table serves Robuchon’s notoriously butter-heavy pommes purée.

Yes, butter and cream play a profound role in the mash at La Table, but the true story is more interesting. The recipe used at the restaurant is adapted from one that Invest founder Alex Gaudelet’s father created as a Sodexo chef at an insurance building in their native France. “My dad used to make his own brioche,” Gaudelet remembers of his father’s from-scratch ethos. “After that, they started introducing frozen food.”

Creating efficient recipes was important to Gaudelet’s father, which is why he baked his potatoes until they could be cut in half and the centers scooped out easily from crisp jackets, meaning no peeling is necessary. Using Kennebec potatoes results in a dry potato, perfect for soaking up the glut of butter and milk without “making it runny,” as Gaudelet describes it.

Unlike Robuchon’s recipe, Gaudelet’s is fairly simple. But it still tastes like it came out of one of Europe’s most storied kitchens.

Recipe: Mashed Potatoes

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 lb. Kennebec potatoes, all of uniform size
  • Rock salt, enough to line a baking sheet
  • 3 ½ c. unsalted butter
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. ground white pepper
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • ¾ pt. whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Wash potatoes. Place rock salt in a deep baking sheet; this will absorb the spuds’ moisture. Add washed potatoes to the bed of salt. Then bake for around 1 ½ hours (cooking time varies depending on the size of potatoes).
  3. Dice butter into small cubes and keep chilled. Heat 3 cups of milk and keep warm. Check doneness of potatoes with a skewer to see if the center is soft.
  4. Cut baked potatoes in half and scoop the entire potato without the skin through a sieve with a spatula in batches.
  5. Transfer the milled potatoes into a mixing bowl; add milk, butter, salt, nutmeg and white pepper; mix until smooth.

Chef recommendation: For extra flavor, add a good-quality truffle or fresh chopped porcini mushrooms to the mix.

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