Today's post is brought to you by duck fat. Need I say more??
Duck fat is amazing. And tasty. And amazing. And a healthy fat. And amazing. And inexpensive. And amazing. Another thing on my top 2359235273 list. hahah.
In planning our Easter dinner, we decided to go completely different from our usual turkey or ham proteins and opted to concoct an entirely different menu featuring duck. In preparation for Easter dinner, I sourced some beautiful duck breasts through the wonder of twitter. To the rescue was Ocean Odyssey Inland (Edmonton), Jessie Radies of the Blue Pear (Edmonton), and Kingsland Farmers Market (Calgary) all enthusiastically recommending Greens Eggs and Ham. The funny part is that they would have been my go-to stop for duck (amongst other fantastic sustainable grown produce and protein) in Edmonton but I had no idea that I could find them in Calgary. Enter: The corner booth in the Kingsland Farmers Market... at 5 minutes to close... Mary Ellen of Green Eggs and Ham.
Mary Ellen was a happy market-goer's dream. She was welcoming and enthusiastic, despite it being moments to closing. She stopped closing up shop for the day to not only help us purchase our duck breast but provide us many product recommendations, cooking tips, and overwhelming enthusiasm for her product. While we came for duck breast, we also left with duck fat (why not?) and some pretty little white almond potatoes. We probably could have bought up half the store but restrained ourselves with plans of returning on Thursday or Friday for a few more Easter dinner party items... and maybe some more cooking tips.
Kendall at City and Dale (a great Edmonton... I want to say blog but it really has become so much more than that... site that promotes all things in and about the city that she and several other contributing writers love so much) seemed to get a similar recommendation on these potato gems (see her post on City and Dale here).
A small bag (roughly 30+) white almond potatoes
Salt and pepper
Your favourite herbs
Heat your oven to 425 F.
Wash your little potatoes before tossing them in a roasting tin with a few small spoonfuls of duck fat, fresh cracked pepper, and whatever herbs you may have around. I do love rosemary or thyme with roasted potatoes... or maybe both... or maybe something else altogether.
Stir to coat the potatoes with the fat and flavour, then place them in the hot oven.
At about 30 minutes, I gave them an additional stir to coat the tops of the potatoes with the fat again and let the other sides get some time on the bottom of the roasting pan (I wanted that crispy brown skin all over!). Put them back in the oven for 20-30 minutes, then remove and transfer to your serving bowl.
The duck fat just coats the potato and seems to prevent them from drying out. As such, this is a very forgiving recipe (and who doesn't love that).
Now... Mary Ellen raved, so we listened. This is what she said... portion out the potatoes that you need for your dinner, then put the remaining leftover potatoes back in that same hot oven. Eat your dinner and revel in the glory of duck fat. Have dessert. Hey, even have coffee. Take your time and leave those potatoes be.
So, I ate my dinner. I made a call. Sipped my wine. Pondered an ice cream treat. Stuck with the wine. And returned to the potatoes nearly two hours from when I first put those raw nuggets in the oven (about an hour after I finished eating dinner).
I don't even know that I can describe this flavour and mouth feel to you well enough. The skins of the potatoes are incredibly roasted and dark. You almost worry that you went too far and they have burned but they still glisten from the duck fat. The skin crackles as you stir the potatoes around. It's music to your ears. They are transferred to a bowl, then heavily salted with Maldon salt. Grabbing one from the top of the pile and hoping it has had a moment to cool, I bit. The roasting has gone deep but the middle is still white and shockingly creamy. Those outside layers give you that initial hit of duck flavour but then it goes deeper, to almost a caramel type flavour... maybe some sugars have caramelized in the high heat? Whatever it is. It is more than potato and duck fat. It is rich and fascinating in flavour. Mary Ellen was right. And I am so glad that I listened.