I told my kids that you haven't lived until you've eaten potatoes fried in duck fat. To prove this, I made a potato galette. Actually, I made two. The first one flopped. I suspect I used too little duck fat. Also, because I cooked it entirely in the oven, the galette didn't develop that amazing crust on the bottom I was expecting. We ate it, but no one was blown away.
And then I made the second one. This time I pulled out Julia Child's The Way to Cook, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. Of course Julia would know how to make a perfect potato galette! I followed her advice and washed some of the starch off the sliced potatoes before laying them into the already-heated cast iron pan. But then I did my own thing. The duck fat, of course. I left the potato skins on. And I added a little grated Romano cheese between the layers, plus a sprinkling on top. I cooked it covered on the stove, then moved it under the broiler without its protective foil to crisp the top.
The result: "transplendent," as that ditzy post-hippie said to Woody Allen in Annie Hall. Crispy top and bottom, creamy white inside, with a richness you can't even get from butter. I cut it into wedges and passed it around the table. We might have heard angels singing. Or, wait, I bet that was my younger son, who sings his way through life. He ate three pieces. It's one of the few dishes I've made in the past 10 years of which we had no leftovers.
A mandoline (my favorite: the Oxo Good Grips hand-held mandoline slicer) makes slicing the potatoes much easier, but if it's just you and a knife and your infinite patience, you'll do fine. Use a cast-iron pan if you've got one for the best bottom crust.
Potato galette with duck fat
- 3 large Idaho russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
- about 1/4 cup duck fat
- about 5 Tbsp olive oil
- about 4 Tbsp grated parmesan or Romano cheese
- salt and pepper
Meantime, heat a cast-iron pan (or another very heavy ovenproof skillet) over medium-high heat. I used a 10-inch skillet, but a 12-inch would work, too - your galette will end up bigger but thinner, which is fine. Add a few tablespoons each of the duck fat and the olive oil and swirl them around to coat the bottom of the pan.
Now, working quickly, lay one layer of potato slices in the pan in a circular pattern, overlapping the slices slightly. Sprinkle the layer with a little duck fat, a little olive oil, a little grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Repeat, making additional layers, until you've used up all the potatoes. I got about four layers in. Over the top layer sprinkle some duck fat, olive oil and salt (no cheese yet on the top).
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the potatoes with a layer of aluminum foil, pressing the foil down onto the top layer of the galette. Now cover the pan with a lid that fits inside the pan, to keep the foil pressed down. Wrap the edges of the foil down and around the sides of the pan so very little steam escapes as the galette cooks. It will take about 20-25 minutes for the potatoes to get tender; test them after about 20 minutes by sliding the point of a sharp paring knife straight down into the top of the galette. If there's no resistance, the potatoes are cooked.
Heat the broiler, Sprinkle the galette with a thin layer of the grated cheese and put the pan, uncovered, under the broiler. Browning the top should take no more than 3-4 minutes. Watch it closely, because it will burn if you leave it in even 30 seconds too long.
When the top is brown and the cheese is melted and blistered, remove the pan from the oven. Use a large spatula to unmold the galette onto a cutting board. Let it rest a few minutes, either in the pan or on the board, before slicing into wedges. Serve hot.