For a Thanksgiving feast at Wolves & People Brewery, on a hazelnut farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley, chefs Jaret Foster and Mona Johnson created this tribute to the farm. They cut potatoes into tiny balls with a melon baller, sautéed them, and then roasted them to a crunchy golden brown--until each resembled a "noisette" (French for hazelnut). Then they piled the potato balls on a bed of ultra-rich potato purée. Despite its vast amount of butter, the purée doesn't taste greasy; instead, it's like a cloud. That said, you can still make luscious potatoes with half the butter.
6 to 6 1/2 lbs. large russet potatoes, peeled, divided
2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, divided
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks
About 1 tsp. kosher salt
About 3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons clarified butter, or a mix of 2 tbsp. each unsalted butter and grapeseed or avocado oil
Preheat oven to 450°. Using a small melon-baller (3/4- to 1-in. diameter), scoop out as many potato balls as possible from 2/3 of russet potatoes and 2/3 of Yukon Golds. Drop potato balls into a bowl of water as you shape them, to prevent browning.
Cut holey potatoes into 2-in. chunks and drop into a large pot of well-salted water. Cut remaining potatoes into 1-in. chunks and add to pot, with enough water to cover. Bring potatoes to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat cream just until steaming. Drain potatoes; set pot back on stove. Pour half of hot cream into pot and add 1/2 cup butter. In batches, pass hot potatoes through a potato ricer into pot, alternating with rest of cream and 1 1/2 cups butter. Stir potatoes until smooth; then stir in 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Add more salt or pepper if you like. Keep warm over very low heat until serving or, if making ahead, cover surface of potatoes with plastic wrap and pour a little cream on top of the wrap to keep a skin from forming. Chill.
Pat potato balls dry in a kitchen towel. Heat 2 large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed pans over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. clarified butter to each and swirl to coat. Add potato balls in a single layer and season lightly with salt and pepper. Brown well all over, 10 to 15 minutes.
Top potatoes with thyme sprigs and bake in pans or on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer until very crisp, turning occasionally, 15 to 30 minutes. Toss with remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon warm potato purée onto a platter and mound potatoes noisette on top.
Make ahead: Through Step 3, up to 1 day (chill potato balls in water). Reheat purée in a heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent sticking.
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