I am doing a lot of cooking these days as usual, it is just getting tougher to bring up the energy to post a lot. Still cooking and baking is one of the few mind relaxing activities in these times of home quarantine and COVID! This potato “cake” is a relaxing repetitive activity that makes a delicious dish much superior to the sum of its parts.
It’s a recipe adapted from Fergus Henderson’s Book of St. John (a lovely read if there is ever one and a great companion to his previous compendium Nose to Tail). This is -I think- a classic French preparation and I have seen it before made with clarified butter. Duck fat though, really makes this a special treat adding flavor and flaky crispier texture.
I sliced Russet potatoes as thin as possible on a mandolin and rinsed them well. To get them as dry as possible I spun them in the salad spinner and did my best to pat them dry. These then got tossed with a few healthy doses of melted duck fat and salt.
Next comes the layering. It’s quiet a relaxing and meditative exercise this one. I lined a loaf pan with parchment paper and starting laying the thin slices of duck fat glazed potatoes in it. One at a time, alternating layers it goes to create, as Henderson calls it, a strata of potato.
When the layering is done, the pan is covered tightly in foil and baked until a knife easily goes through the potatoes. Now, very similar to a terrine, we need to weigh the layers of potato. This ensures that the layers get fused together into a “cake”. I used a smaller loaf pan on top of the potato, a couple of large tomato cans in that and the book on top. Once cooled I transferred the weighted pans (no book though!) to the fridge to set overnight.
The final step involves frying the potatoes into delectable ducky flaky blocks. I took the cake out of the pan and cut it into neat rectangular blocks. These blocks are then finished by a deep frying step in hot peanut oil until crispy on all sides. Remove, drain and sprinkle with salt. Done. Well, kind of done. What to eat it with?
Well, they are delicious on their own, with some regular low-brow ketchup or some fancy homemade carrot ketchup and some sprinkles of black salt.
They are excellent with a couple of eggs and home cured bacon.
I’m sure they would make amazing side to fried fish instead of normal chips. I still have to try that yet…or how about a nice steak and a few dollops of Bearnaise?