After making roast duck for a special family dinner, I was left with some duck fat which I saved in a jar in the fridge. What to do with the fat was the big question. I’ve seen duck fat fries plenty of times on menus at fancy eateries, but the thought of making fries with this special fat didn’t thrill me. I found other recipes using duck fat but basically they were some kind of roasted vegetables using duck fat. *Yawn*
Then I came across this “Thousand-Layer Duck Fat Potatoes” recipe on Food & Wine. The picture showed perfectly fried layers of delicate potatoes that looked absolutely delectable so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
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Let me start off by saying that the prep/cook time for this recipe is misleading. It says “Cook Time: 1 hour, Total Time: 12 hours, Yields: 10”.
When you see that you think, oh, so if I get it started early in the morning, I can have it ready for dinner. Right? Not exactly. Turns out this timing is the bare minimum.
When they say “cook time” I assume they mean the time it takes to prep. This is pretty accurate because it takes a while to peel and slice all those potatoes, coat in melted duck fat, and layer the potatoes in a pan. It’s pretty tedious.
Then you bake it at a low temperature for 2 to 3 hours, after which you weigh it down and cool for 1 hour, after which you let it refrigerate overnight or 8 hours. That’s already 11 to 12 hours right there, and that’s not it.
After it’s chilled, you take it out and slice them into little cubes. But wait you aren’t finished yet! You gotta lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them “until solid, at least 30 minutes”. I dunno if I should change the temperature setting on my freezer but it certainly was not frozen solid after 30 minutes so I ended up freezing overnight.
So what’s the time up to now? I spent a good bit of time peeling and slicing, and preparing the potatoes, baked for 3 hours, let it rest for 1 hour, chilled for 8 hours, and froze for 8 hours. Oops, we’re way past 12 hours. Not to mention the additional time it took to cut the potato cake into neat rectangles and lay them out onto a baking sheet.
But we’re not done yet! There is one more step: frying. This is actually the easiest bit because once you have the little cubes frozen, you can keep them stored in a freezer bag and fry them whenever you want to eat them.
So, after all that work, was it worth it? I gotta say, I think it IS worth the time and effort. The crunchy layers are pretty irresistible.
But that brings me to the next key point which needs some clarification with this recipe. The ingredients list says potatoes sliced into 1/8-inch slices. I would recommend thinner than that. Perhaps even 1/16-inch slices. Or, maybe it’s fine to slice them into 1/8-inch slices, but in the step where you weigh down the baked potatoes, make sure to really weigh it down. The directions say to “weigh it down with unopened canned goods” but does not specify how many so I just used as many would fit in the pan. What I should have done was stack more cans on top because it needs to really be weighed down for the layers to stick together and not fall apart when fried.
Oh and another thing? “Yields 10”? That is mighty optimistic. You end up with 42 cubes, and they are pretty small. I’m talking, they are bite-size (don’t forget it shrinks after it’s deep-fried). Try dividing 42 delicious fried potato-cubes among 10 people. You’ll end up with 10 people wanting more.