Pommes souffles were not on my radar. Nope. Not a single blinking blip. I planned to pair fresh plump 'frenched' center cut rib pork chops with a thinly layered gruyere-laden potato gratin. After suffering through a disastrous undercooked potato gratin at a local restaurant recently, I banished any notion of rehashing the memory of that unfortunate vapid and limp gratin imposter.
Blip. Enter pommes souffles, fascinating little potato puffs. Pommes souffles were created by a happy accident in 1837 when a French chef was forced to refry half-cooked sliced potatoes because of an unexpected delay in service. When he tossed the blanched half-cooked potatoes into hot oil for the second time, the trapped steam caused the potatoes to puff up and crisp. Brilliant.
I peeled two large russet potaoes before turning them ( a knife cut used to create oblong-shaped vegetables) into the shapes of small pointy footballs. Not knowing which cut size would produce the perfect puffs, I used my to mandolin to shave one potato into 1/8 inch slices and the other potato into 1/4 inch slices. Yeah, I measured them.
I soaked the potatoes in ice water for 30 minutes before draining them and patting them dry. After heating oil in a deep fryer until it reached 325 degrees, I fried the potatoes in batches until they blistered (5-6 minutes) before scooping them onto a wire rack to drain.
While the potatoes cooled, I pan seared the center cut chops in butter and olive oil until they were deeply browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. After removing them to a plate, I added minced garlic, pearl onions, quartered grape tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the sizzling pan drippings. When the onions softened, I deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup white wine and added 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. I brought the stock to a boil, reduced it a simmer, slid the browned chops back into the pan, covered them, and let the chops braise for 20 minutes.