French fries are tempting, but I’ll take a side of duck fat and thyme smashed potatoes over a pile of fries nine times out of 10. (That 10-percent: duck fat fries or shoestring potatoes.) When earthy duck fat meets crisp potato, magic happens. Add a generous dose of freshly-ground pepper and minced thyme — both classic potato pairings — and it doesn’t get much better.
Even if you’d rather pass on roasting spuds in duck fat — maybe you’re a vegetarian, or don’t want to bother with sourcing it — this recipe holds value. Cooking fat aside, the technique of par-boiling the potatoes, smashing, and then roasting them in a hot oven yields ridiculously-good roast potatoes. Near-meltingly-tender in the center (from the par-boiling) with a crisp golden-brown exterior (from the increased surface volume to area ratio created by smashing), this technique is my go-to way to cook potatoes, duck fat or no.
Plus, unlike french fries, which have a short half-life, this side only somewhat depreciates in quality as it cools down. Reheated, leftovers are nearly as good the next day. (That is, if you have leftovers.)
- 2 pounds mini potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons duck fat, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon minced thyme, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Add the potatoes to a pot with 1 tablespoon salt; cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife, but the center is still firm.
- Whisk together the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, duck fat, thyme, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Thoroughly drain the potatoes and then toss with the duck fat and seasonings.
- Add the potatoes to a half-sheet pan and gently smash using the flat side of a bench scraper or a meat pounder. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip the potatoes and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until deeply browned and crisp-edged.