Cooking with duck fat is a new concept for me. Call me a convert. In my quest for the most perfect and delicious, hot and crunchy potato dishes I have tried corn oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, peanut oil and bacon fat. I have finally discovered magic in a bottle. (Actually, magic in a jar, delivered courtesy of Amazon, but that is a superfluous detail.) With the Waterfowl Festival taking off this weekend in Easton, now seems like a good time to extoll the wizardry that is duck fat.
The other night I parboiled a peeled Russet potato, which I had cut into wedges. Once they were fork-tender, I drained them in a colander, and patted them dry with paper towels. In the large and heavy cast-iron skillet I melted two tablespoons of duck fat that I had scooped from a glass jar that the UPS guy had delivered that afternoon, in the dark, at 5:30 PM. (It is going to take us all a long time to get used to the clock change, we agreed.)
The fat melted quickly at a lower medium heat, and bubbled and began to fill the kitchen with an enchanted aroma. I dumped the potato wedges into the sizzle, and stood expectantly, watching the transformation begin. I turned the wedges carefully, after I saw the bottom edges turning golden sienna. And after a few more minutes of delicate and obsessive fussing, I scooped the potato wedges out of the fat, and onto another paper towel. A mere dusting of Maldon salt was the only seasoning. And I spooned the perfectly golden brown wedges onto the dinner plates alongside the sausages, peppers, onions and garlic bread. (There was a green salad already on the table as well as a couple of glasses of an inexpensive Cabernet.)
The duck-fried potato wedges were divinely light and crunchy, and absolutely deelish. And best of all, they stayed warm through the meal. They were the soothssayingly crisp foil to the soft and slick peppers and onions. They were magical fried potatoes. Not from a freezer bag, or a store, or a fast-food drive-through. They weren’t doused in chemical preservatives. They were adult fries, with spell-binding panache. (Though no truffles.) Go get some duck fat. Right now.
Through my extensive research into the perfect homemade fried potatoes I have experienced many failures, but I think using duck fat is going to ratchet up my game considerably. There is much pleasure to be derived from homemade culinary triumphs; simple pleasures are indeed the best.
This was the impetus for my duck fat experiment: https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/how-to-cook-with-duck-fat which might give you more practical information than my anecdotal paean.
And because fries are delicious, and necessary for a fulfilled life, but aren’t very photographic, I tried them again for breakfast this morning, topped with beauteous eggs for this week’s illustration. Mr. Friday drove away with a smile on his face. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee3hWLMUvD8
Waterfowl Festival goers: you probably know how to do this already, but here is a short video about conjuring up your own duck fat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkWeKp-Elvw
You’ll have more time on the weekend for frying up bacon and tomatoes, and here is an impressive breakfast to prepare before a weekend filled with retriever demonstrations, waterfowl calling, diving dogs, decoy appreciation and beer tasting: https://www.food24.com/Recipes/duck-fat-egg-toastie-20170612
“It is easy to think of potatoes, and fortunately for men who have not much money it is easy to think of them with a certain safety. Potatoes are one of the last things to disappear, in times of war, which is probably why they should not be forgotten in times of peace.”
― M.F.K. Fisher
For all things Waterfowl Festival 2019: https://www.waterfowlfestival.org/