Potatoes Boulangère

James Beard

Author and Educator

Literally called “potatoes from the baker,” pommes boulangère originated in France centuries ago when people in rural areas did not own ovens of their own. On their way to church, women would take the Sunday roast of lamb in a dish, surrounded with sliced onions and potatoes, to the baker to be cooked in his oven while the family prayed. Afterward, they picked it up and took it home for lunch, perfectly done. Beard acquired this version of the dish from Maurice Moore-Betty, a popular cookbook writer and teacher during the 1960s and ‘70s.


  • 4 medium-large potatoes, sliced paper thin
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter and oil in a skillet and add onions. Cook until golden and soft (not brown), shaking the pan occasionally. Drain, saving the liquid.

Liberally butter a 2-quart baking dish. Put in a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to make layers of potatoes and onions, seasoning the layers, and end with a top layer of potatoes. Season with more salt and pepper, and dot with remaining butter. Pour on the liquid from the onions and just enough water to reach the top of the potatoes.

Bake about 30 or 40 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the potatoes test tender with a fork.

You can vary the recipe by adding a touch of thyme or rosemary to the seasons or dotting more butter between the layers.


4 servings