Editors' Picks

Francis Mallmann's Potato Dominoes

January 30, 2013

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.

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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




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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jean Wilcox
    Jean Wilcox
  • Maralyn
  • Suparna Basu-Ravis
    Suparna Basu-Ravis
  • Miachel Pruett
    Miachel Pruett
  • frank
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Jean W. December 13, 2017
Domino's is a "bad" pizza? We've been franchisees since 1985....superlative product and standard. What do you know about perseverance, corporate politics, employee drama, pilferidge, and cash flow.? Yet, you're quick to dismiss for your less than clever sound bite. Not impressed with your writing, and I wonder how you would deliver en mass pizza?
Maralyn March 5, 2016
Trader Joe's sells clarified butter "Ghee" for only 3 or 4 dollars a jar. It's great and no need to refrigerate it.
Suparna B. March 15, 2015
Do yourselves a favor and make this. Multiple times a week. Amazing. Genius. Slices of heaven
Miachel P. March 13, 2015
"But the problem is it won't taste like butter." GOLD.
frank September 23, 2013
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!
Rosemaryandthegoat February 24, 2013
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.
Mhribbit February 8, 2013
I didn't have any potatoes but did have some extra celery root...lovely!
saltandserenity February 5, 2013
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.
Foodiewithalife February 4, 2013
Wow! What a show stopper! I'm making these for a dinner party.

irishchef February 3, 2013
This is similar to Hasselback Potatoes. Check them out at Google.
arly February 4, 2013
Irishchef --yes it does --i used to make those all of the time--from thetime-life foods of the world scandonavian
Kathi D. February 3, 2013
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.
Kathy S. February 3, 2013
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....
enthous February 6, 2013
Yes, yes! Another visual person agrees.
chriskline February 3, 2013
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.
Dazzle-dae February 3, 2013
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......
TobiT February 3, 2013
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!
Kristen M. February 5, 2013
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.
duckfat February 3, 2013
How about using duck fat instead of butter?
Kristen M. February 5, 2013
Duckfat, do!
food-alovestory.com February 3, 2013
As you say, nothing short of genius. Just wish I could jump to the final step: "Serve..." Now. Thanks!
food-alovestory.com February 3, 2013
As you say, nothing short of genius. Just wish I could jump to the final step: "Serve..." Now. Thanks!
MrsWheelbarrow January 31, 2013
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'.
Panfusine January 31, 2013
what?? you mean the six pieces shown in the pics have to be divvied up between more than one person?? ;-)
Kristen M. February 5, 2013
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.)
AniQuadros January 31, 2013
correcton on my link
Is www.healthyhappyrecipes.com