“If you’re afraid of butter and cream, just replace it with duck fat.” 🙂
To say the least, if I have one signature move to my cooking, adding duck fat to items is most definitely mine.
I’ve tried to avoid the butter heavy Julia dishes, but I just couldn’t resist making this. Crispy on the outside, creamy buttery potatoes on the inside, it is the perfect potato dish. I also just happened to have a fresh batch of new potatoes from my CSA on hand that was begging to made into something delicious. While the original recipe calls for “boiling” potatoes, any baking or waxy potato will be successful.
Going back to the butter. The original recipe calls for 1/2lb. or 2 sticks, I quartered that amount, and then added 2 tablespoons of duck fat. It was more than enough fat needed for the recipe, and no flavor was lost in the process. In fact, by using duck fat you enhancing the flavor profile.
For a successful version of this dish you want the thinest possible potatoes. Sliced on a mandolin at 1/8 is recommended, if you do not have one the slicing blade from your food processor will also work. From the book Julia recommends a cast-iron frying pan for cooking, but I used a ceramic dish and it work fine. You want a dish that can withstand very high temperatures in the oven. It should be at least 2 inches deep but no more than 8 inches wide.
1 1/2 pounds new (red) potatoes or boiling potatoes, sliced 1/8 thick
salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and place your frying pan or dish in the oven for 10 minutes to pre-heat.
Melt your butter in a small saucepan, skimming the foam from the top. Remove from heat and whisk in the rendered duck fat.
Thoroughly dry the sliced potatoes between pieces of paper towels.
Carefully remove your dish from the oven and brush the bottom of it with the butter/duck fat mixture.
Place one slice of potato in the center and arrange in an overlapping circle over the first until you reach the rim of the dish. Arrange a second layer of potatoes and then brush with another layer of fat.
Continue to layer, brushing with fat every two layers and seasoning with salt and pepper every three layers.
Once finished, pour any remaining fat over the top of the potatoes.
Press the potatoes down using the bottom of a heavy pan and cover with foil or parchment paper
Place in the upper racks of your oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Uncover, press down on the potatoes again and bake uncovered for 20 more minutes.
To serve, you can either serve directly from the dish once it has cooled or for a nicer presentation run a knife around the edge of the potatoes and reverse the dish onto a baking sheet before sliding it onto a platter.