Trust the French to come up with a potato cake that is alluringly crisp on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. Called Pommes Anna, this dish was created during Napoleon III's era and named after one of the lovely women at court. Traditionally made with enough butter to float the Normandie, we've made it with much less, which nonetheless produces a dish so rich and delicious, there's never a crumb left. Slice the potatoes by hand, by mandoline, or in a food processor.
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Melt 2 1/2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof heavy skillet over medium heat. Arrange a single layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern in pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt mixture. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon melted butter over potatoes. Repeat the layers 5 times, ending with butter. Press firmly to pack. Cover and bake at 450° for 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Loosen edges of potatoes with a spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of pan; invert potatoes onto plate. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.