La Jolla potatoes are no longer on the menu at Chez Jay, looks like, but patrons used to chow down on this dish cooked up by owner Jay Fiondella and his quondam roommate, Leonard Nimoy. The L.A. Times:
“Star Trek’s” Leonard Nimoy, with whom Fiondella roomed in the 1950s, helped him create what became a signature dish: La Jolla potatoes, a melange of mashed potatoes, bananas and cheese.
What did Nimoy contribute to the recipe? The bananas? The cheese? The garlic? The mashing? The browning? The “textural contrast”? I put it to you that, as Americans, we have not only the freedom, but the duty to investigate these questions. For as Leonard himself reminds us in a penetrating study of the Bermuda Triangle: “To say, in essence, that science need not investigate is to destroy the rationale for any scientific quest.”
Chez Jay in Santa Monica (via TripAdvisor)
This recipe for La Jolla potatoes from L.A.‘s Legendary Restaurants serves six:
8 x 8-inch baking pan, buttered
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 larges cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups half-and-half
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
4 oz. Jarlsberg or Gruyère cheese, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until just tender (about 15 minutes). Drain into a colander and allow the potatoes to steam for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wipe out the pot, add the garlic and butter and return to the heat. Allow the garlic to turn golden, then add the half-and-half, salt, pepper, bananas, and potatoes.
4. Using a hand masher, roughly mash the potato mixture. You want to have a textural contrast of smooth and rough pieces. Season to taste, then transfer the potatoes to the baking pan and top with the grated cheese. Place in the oven to heat through and brown the cheese, about 15 minutes.
5. Serve at once or set the oven at 200ºF and keep warm until ready to serve.
Heavy cream, salt, cheese, starch and butter are the fuel that keeps healthy bodies frugging to “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” all day long. Live long et cetera.