Genius Recipes

Francis Mallmann's Potato Dominoes

By • January 30, 2013 • 47 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The crispiest, creamiest potato around.

Don't you love how potatoes let us do whatever we want to them? We mash them. We splat them. We braise them in cream, then singe their tops

And now, we domino them. The word that used to refer merely to a game, a Van Morrison song, and bad pizza is also an uncomplicated-yet-fancy potato technique from revered Argentine chef (and winner of our first Piglet Tournament) Francis Mallmann.

It was sent to me by Food52er mikeficus, whose pitch read as follows: "Simple, elegant, and wonderful. Crisp caramelized edges with soft, chewy centers. Mmmmm." 

To look at them, some of you may already be entranced. Others may think that they'd rather leave the potato alone and not prune it like an 80s poodle -- but that's only because they haven't tasted those crisp corners and buttery middles.

This technique makes starchy Russets think they're the creamiest Yukon Golds. It's a little like Jeffrey Steingarten's famous single-layer potato gratin, but pared down to three ingredients and given the Fallingwater treatment. Let us begin.

Here's how you domino a potato:

First make some clarified butter. Which is to say: melt butter down, watch the milk solids clump, and strain them out. Stick the golden remains in the freezer to firm up (you'll see why later). What's left is resistant to burning and won't ruin your potatoes.



Scrub your potatoes. Shear off their sides to make logs shaped a bit like a pack of gum. (In culinary school, you'd be graded on how even your blocks are. Here, no one's watching, and it won't matter.)


(This looks like an unconscionable amount of waste, and it would be, if you were to throw it out. But don't! You can stash those end bits in the fridge in a bowl of water if you don't want to deal with them right away. Later, you can roast them off, in their haphazard state or cubed neatly. Or purée them, or turn them into salad or soup.)


Next, shave the blocks into a shaggy stack of dominoes. It's easiest to use a mandoline, or you can nerd out with your knife skills.

Leave them in a toppled stack and don't put them in water -- the starch will keep your dominoes from sliding about.

I've had the best results by fanning them low like a hand of cards, but other bloggers have managed to fit a lot of dominoes in the pan and stand them up tall. Your call. 

Mallmann calls for the butter to be chilled so you can peel off these little curls and smear them around. You could instead just brush it on in melted form, but I like the effect of the slow-melting cold butter. You could also use something like grapeseed oil -- but the problem is it won't taste like butter. 

Now salt them up, and roast them to a crisp.

Serve them at your next dinner party, or just when you're in need of comfort. Or when you're feeling bored by winter suppers, and want to make a spectacle of your potato. It won't mind.

Francis Mallmann's Potato Dominoes

Recipe adapted very slightly from Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (Workman Publishing, 2009)

Serves 2 to 4

4 Idaho potatoes
4 tablespoons chilled clarified butter
Coarse salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom


More ways to doll up a potato:

 mashed potatoes  squashed potatoes  crispy cream-braised potatoes




Tags: genius, francis mallmann, potato dominoes, potatoes

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Comments (47)


about 1 month ago Suparna Basu-Ravis

Do yourselves a favor and make this. Multiple times a week. Amazing. Genius. Slices of heaven


about 1 month ago Miachel Breton

"But the problem is it won't taste like butter." GOLD.


over 1 year ago frank

Genius indeed. Made these as last night to accompany Churrasco flank steak. Both were a hit. Lots of different flavors and textures of the potato in a single dish. Stunning presentation too!


about 2 years ago Rosemaryandthegoat

A different take on hasselback potatoes which I can never get to open up properly. I am trying these tonight. Potatoes pave next on my list.


about 2 years ago Mhribbit

I didn't have any potatoes but did have some extra celery root...lovely!


about 2 years ago saltandserenity

I almost didn't finish reading the end of this post I was so excited to get to the kitchen and start peeling potatoes. These indeed are genius. Thanks for bringing them the attention they deserve.


about 2 years ago Foodiewithalife

Wow! What a show stopper! I'm making these for a dinner party.



about 2 years ago irishchef

This is similar to Hasselback Potatoes. Check them out at Google.


about 2 years ago arly

Irishchef --yes it does --i used to make those all of the time--from thetime-life foods of the world scandonavian


about 2 years ago Kathi D

These look luscious. And thank you for mentioning Van Morrison. I needed to hear that after my workout this week with a young man born in 1988, an excellent trainer and lovely kid who understood none of my cultural references. I had to tell him that George Harrison was a member of The Beatles. Made me almost shed a tear for the younger generation.


about 2 years ago Kathy S.

Love this recipe and many others on this site. My one complaint (suggestion-I always complain first!) When I press print, the lead photo never comes up with the accompanying recipe. I like having the photo to remind me of the dish - and I am totally a visual person anyway. What I have to go thru in order to copy a photo seems like a lot of work. Can't you just include a photo of the finished dish within the print option? Please....


about 2 years ago enthous

Yes, yes! Another visual person agrees.


about 2 years ago chriskline

I've seen these before, but your recipe has inspired me to try these soon. Something about cold, snowy Ohio days make potatoes sound irresistible.


about 2 years ago Dazzle-dae

Like the good peasant that I am, I take my potatoes any way I can get them - but "dominios"?? oh, YES!!! takes me from peasant to princess......


about 2 years ago TobiT

I have a couple of questions about the preparation:
1. How much pre-clarified butter results in 4 tablespoons of clarified butter?
2. The recipe suggests using a non-stick pan or pan lined with silpat, yet the beautiful photo shows just a regular, well-loved cookie sheet (or maybe it's a jelly roll pan). Do I need to use a non-stick or silpat? My experience is that sometimes non-stick tools like these don't result in crispy edges.
Thanks - am dying to make these NOW! So delicious-looking!


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

1. You only need about 5 tablespoons of whole butter to wind up with 4 tablespoons clarified.
2. Great question -- in this case, the pan wasn't originally non-stick, but it's loved enough to act that way. With the amount of butter, sticking is unlikely either way, if you remove the dominoes carefully.


about 2 years ago duckfat

How about using duck fat instead of butter?


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Duckfat, do!


about 2 years ago

As you say, nothing short of genius. Just wish I could jump to the final step: "Serve..." Now. Thanks!


about 2 years ago

As you say, nothing short of genius. Just wish I could jump to the final step: "Serve..." Now. Thanks!


about 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Latkes were the plan for dinner tonight, but the Dominoes won out as soon as I read this enticing post, Kristen. And they completely totally were everything you promised. I don't know in what universe four potatoes serve four people, however. Just sayin'.


about 2 years ago Panfusine

what?? you mean the six pieces shown in the pics have to be divvied up between more than one person?? ;-)


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Excellent point -- changing now to 2 to 4 people. (If you use huge potatoes, and have a big steak on the side, one might do the trick.)


about 2 years ago AniQuadros

correcton on my link
Is www.healthyhappyrecipes...


about 2 years ago AniQuadros

I love how food 52 explains the recipes, I do similar on my blog, step by step pictures.
It is a joy having food52, thank you for the good work. Perhaps some of you would like to check my page, I love to share my pssion for healthy food. By the way Francis Mallman is indeed a great chef.
God bless you all,


about 2 years ago Clara Fernandez-Chapin

Excuse me! We can't all afford to buy a tin of ghee, have you priced it lately? we all deserve to eat well, at affordable prices. Thanks to the editors for thinking of all of us!!


about 2 years ago

Ghee? Expensive? Make it! It is much more fun, and better for you ~ http://food-alovestory...