I recently had a spectacular dinner at a new restaurant in Yakima, in the heart of Washington state's ever-expanding wine country. The menu at Crafted features loads of farm-to-table fare, and chef/owner Dan Koommoo delivers gorgeous dishes bursting with fresh, seasonal flavors. I loved every bite, but I came home determined to try and copycat his amazing duck fat potatoes, pictured below.
Yes, Duck Fat!
Chefs have long known the benefits of cooking with duck fat, lard and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), because each of these animal fats brings a whole lot of flavor to meats and, especially vegetables. These fats have a higher smoke point, allowing cooks to crank up the heat and get that crispy, crave-able finish. The texture is one reason those potatoes were so memorable. OK, duck fat isn't exactly something you're going to find next to the olive oil in your supermarket. It's starting to show up, though, and is available online. Maybe it's starting to show up because there's a growing body of research that shows a moderate amount of fat isn't as bad for you as once believed.
Second Time Was Better
I made the first batch in an Air Fryer, and while they were fine, they were nothing special. After sharing my duck fat potato mission with a friend, she suggested first par-boiling the potatoes in salted water before roasting them at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Yes, the prep took a little longer, but the potatoes were much better than the first batch. Still, they weren't quite crispy enough. So close, but still no true copycat.
You Know What They Say About the Third Time...
... it's a charm. But before I nailed it, I called chef Dan. He generously walked me through the steps, even the surprise finish for this popular appetizer. "We started out par-boiling them and frying them on the stove top, but that was too time consuming, so we now finish them in the oven and hold them. Once they're ordered, we warm them up in a skillet and finish them with a sprinkle of vinegar powder." Say what? Yes, now that I think about it, there was a little tang on those golden taters. So, there was a second secret ingredient to take these roasted potatoes to a dish that was restaurant-worthy. Chef Dan described the process of making the vinegar powder in a microwave: Place a teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl and add about a cup of vinegar, stirring until it stops foaming. Cook it in the microwave on high for 30 second intervals until crystals begin to form. Process those crystals in a spice grinder, and you've got vinegar powder." Brilliant! Also roasting in a cast iron pan was genius, too.
In this short video below, Chef John walks us through his process for making Duck Fat Steak Fries, a side dish he promises will make you forget about all other roasted potatoes:
More Potato Inspiration
- 50 Roasted Potato Recipes
- 10 Ways to Upgrade Your Breakfast Potatoes
- 10 Quick and Easy Potato Side Dishes
- 4 Easy Steps to the Fluffiest Mashed Potatoes Ever
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