A quick note about fat: I'm a fan of any kind of potato that's baked in the oven, but I don't always need my potato side dishes to be flush with fat. Scalloped potatoes contain butter and cream, au gratin potatoes contain butter and cream and cheese, but their less sloppy sister Anna is just butter, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme. And, the amount of butter you use is really up to you. When I make this, I probably only use 4-6 Tbsp. of butter and save the rest. (Herb butter comes in handy!)
Step 1: Get Your Act Together
6-8 Tbsp. of butter
1 1/2 - 2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
Salt and pepper
Small clove garlic, minced (optional)
A muffin tin
A baking sheet
A note about substitutions: The French will never forgive you if you don't make this according to my strict interpretation. Nah, not really, but I definitely recommend using small Yukon Gold potatoes. They're the right size. Not as creamy as a Idaho spud, but they'll hold together a bit more, which is important for this dish. But I do very strongly suggest you use fresh thyme. It makes a difference; thyme is a true partner in this recipe.
Step 2: Prep Time
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and strip a good 2 or even 3 Tbsp. of Thyme into the melted butter. If you've opted for garlic, toss it in there as well.
Slice your potatoes. (You can peel them if you're up for it and want to be a perfectionist.) I sliced them lickety-split using a plastic mandoline that was given to me as a gift. It's crazy cheap, but it works brilliantly. If you don't have one, think seriously about getting one while you painstakingly slice your potatoes as thin as you can by hand (think potato chip thin). If you get desperate, dig up your vegetable peeler and try that.
Toss the sliced potatoes into a bowl, drizzle half the herb butter mixture in, and season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Get down and dirty with your potatoes. Mix thoroughly to coat everything with the herb butter.
Step 3: Power Load
Lay a large piece of thyme in the center of each muffin-settin' spot and start layering your potatoes in a roughly circular manner, building up a tower of potato slices that spires a little bit above the fill line. These potato towers will fall a bit as they cook, so give them a little extra height — just make sure they are as tight and compact as possible.
Cover the muffin tin with aluminum foil and pop into the oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Might as well clean up the mess you've made while this cooks.
Step 4: Flip and Crank
Step 5: Plate and Enjoy
Makes 12 L'il Pomme Annas, but the cook can always claim to hungry guests that sadly, one of them fell on the floor. Which is why there's only 11. Burp.