There are few things simpler and more magical than fried potatoes. The perfect french fry, crisp on the outside, and piping-hot and pillowy on the inside, can be an ethereal experience. Unfortunately, for many, it’s an experience that’s only had in a restaurant (usually of the fast food variety). Restaurant fries give fried potatoes a bad name, running the gamut from chewy boot-leather salt-lick, to flavorless and limp grease-stick.
So what do you do when you’re craving good fried potatoes, but don’t want to create a gallon of waste oil? Well, if you happen to have some rendered duck fat sitting around, you can make these smashed potatoes. They’re easy to make and you only need a smidgen of fat to get the perfect fried potato.
First the potatoes are boiled in liberally salted water, before they are lovingly smashed into thick patties. The boil in the briny water cooks the potatoes through while infusing just the right amount of salt into each spud. Then a fry in a puddle duck fat imbues the rich meaty essence of duck into each tatter while crisping up the skin into a crackling shell.
I could turn these into a meal by themselves, but they also make the perfect side. They’re wonderful with a little Maldon sea salt sprinkled on top, but if you feel the need to get fancy, you could top them with a garlic alioli, or serve them with a side of sour cream and Thai sweet chili sauce.
- 12 whole baby Yukon Gold potatoes (washed)
- salt (for water)
- ½ duck fat (or lard)
- Add the whole potatoes to a large pot and cover with a few inches of water. Pour salt into the water until it tastes like the sea. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Remove the lid and simmer until you can pass a fork through the potato. Drain the potatoes and let the residual heat dry the skins (you'll notice the skin start to turn white as the salt crystalizes).
- Using the flat side of a chef's knife (or the bottom of a plate), gently smash the potatoes so they are about 3/4" thick. In a cast iron skillet, heat the duck fat until hot, then add the potatoes in a single layer. Fry until they potatoes are brown and crispy on one side, then use tongs to flip them and brown them on the other side.
- Drain on a paper towel lined rack and serve immediately.