Sunday, June 15, 2014

Duck Fat Fried Potatoes with Espelette Aïoli

You may have noticed, but this recipe isn't a dessert, nor does it even use the oven.  But sometimes you make something that you just have to share.  And these potatoes are far too yummy for me to keep to myself.

There's a magical place near my apartment.  It's only open to the public every couple of months, but when it is, you can bet I'll be there.  While there, I can wander wide aisles of imported specialty foods, sample aged gouda or liver pâté or white truffle balsamic vinegar.  It's called Epicure Imports, an importer that distributes food all over Southern California.  They opened their doors for Father's Day weekend, and I went with my friend Tony to pick up some fancy foods at discounted prices.

While there, I picked up a container of rendered duck fat and, after a free sample, a small jar pf pureed Espelette pepper.  The Espelette is a chili pepper that was brought to France from Mexico in the 16th century and is now cultivated in the French commune of Espelette.  It tastes a little sweet and fruity with a complex, subtle heat.  I also picked up some cheese and pâté, of course, but these are the two ingredients I decided to use today.

 I know from the duck fat fries I had once at the bar/restaurant Beer Belly that duck fat goes with potatoes like peanut butter and jelly.  So I found a simple fried potato recipe and went to work.  To go along with them, I made a simple aïoli and mixed in some of the Espelette puree.  Yum.

Duck Fat Fried Potatoes (adapted from Food 52)

2 Russet Potatoes
Kosher Salt 
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2-4 Tablespoons Duck Fat
Fleur de Sel
Parsley for garnish

Scrub your potatoes clean and slice into 1/2"-3/4" slices.  Put potatoes in a pot and fill with cold water to cover.  Generously salt and add peppercorns to water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender but not falling apart (about 10 minutes).

Drain potatoes in a colander and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.  You can use this time to make your aïoli. 

Heat enough duck fat to generously coat your pan over medium-high heat until melted and starting to bubble.  Add your potatoes and cook at a nice sizzle until golden brown and crisp.  Flip and cook the other side.  When you're happy with the color, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately top with fleur de sel (or your favorite salt).  

Serve immediately and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Now, these potatoes are so good, you really don't need anything else.  You can eat these by themselves and they'd be dynamite.  But this aioli complements them really well, so if you've got the patience, I'd put the extra effort in.  You can also make the aïoli ahead of time and store it in the fridge until the potatoes are done.

Espelette Aïoli (adapted from Epicurious)

1 large clove garlic
pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons Espelette puree

Mince and smash the garlic with the salt and the flat side of a large knife to make a garlic paste.  

Whisk together the egg yolk and the lemon juice.  Add oil a few drops at a time and whisk until well-blended.  You want to emulsify the egg yolk with the oil and that will be difficult if you add too much oil at a time.  Once 1/3 of the oil is incorporated you can start adding it quicker.  Just stop and whisk whisk whisk if the mixture separates.

Once all of the oil is added and emulsified, mix in garlic paste and espelette puree.  Add a few drops of water if the aïoli is too thick.  

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