Duck Fat Fondant Potatoes

November  9, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

There are seemingly endless ways to cook a potato, and everyone has their hard and fast list of favorites, from mashed to stuffed to fried. If fondant potatoes are not cracking your top three, you’re doing something very wrong. A little more laborious than the humble baked potato, these originated in France (as most good things do), and give a whole new meaning to “melt in your mouth.”

The process for making these perfect little potatoes is very similar to cooking a steak filet and happens in two steps. You start out by searing them in fat until golden brown, then pop them into the oven with some liquid to finish cooking them through. Also like cooking a steak, these potatoes are doused with plenty of butter, smashed garlic, and thyme sprigs on the stovetop.

First things first—let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of this dish, if you will. Potato variety plays an important role here. This recipe calls for Yukon gold potatoes, which are a little less starchy than your average white (or russet) potato. Just like how mashed potatoes made with Yukon Golds will lend richness and creaminess as opposed to a fluffy texture, they do the same thing here. By the time they take a hot bath in the oven, they emerge almost scoopable, like soft butter. Russet potatoes will work in a pinch, but will come out of the oven with a little less body.

I opted for duck fat as my fat of choice for searing the potatoes. You can definitely use a neutral oil with a high smoke point (like vegetable oil) here instead—no harm, no foul. Something like duck fat, clarified butter, or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) will take the final dish over the top. If you happen to have some homemade chicken stock in your freezer, now is the time to defrost it. After searing the potatoes and creating a nice golden brown crust on each side, the second step of the process is a shallow braise, and homemade stock is the right thing for this job. The potatoes go into the oven partially covered in stock or broth, which slowly reduces as the potatoes cook. The combination of dry (hot oven) and wet (braising) cooking techniques creates a perfect silky texture inside the potatoes while maintaining the crispness of their crust. Lastly, if you have other hearty cold-weather herbs, like rosemary or sage, you can throw those into your pan in lieu of the thyme. The thyme is a little more delicate in flavor than other herbs, while rosemary or sage will add a lot of seasonal flavor and fragrance.

Perhaps my favorite part of this recipe is that it is a gift that keeps on giving. It leaves you with a handful of perfectly roasted garlic cloves. I like to just mash them up to spread over toast, or fold them into some softened butter along with a pinch of salt and some freshly grated lemon zest.
Riley Wofford

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons duck fat
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 garlic cloves,
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth, plus more as needed
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel potatoes and trim ends so they stand flat. Cut crosswise into 1-inch rounds. Season potatoes on both sides with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Melt duck fat in a 12” heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 4 minutes. Add potatoes to the skillet in a single layer. Cook, rotating once or twice, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 9 minutes. Flip potatoes and add butter, garlic, and thyme. Cook until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, basting potatoes with butter a few times. Add broth and bring to a boil (liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the potatoes). Transfer to the oven.
  3. Roast until a small knife inserted into the potatoes slides in and out very easily and liquid is mostly evaporated, 25 to 30 minutes. Flip potatoes again, sprinkle with flaky salt, and serve with more fresh thyme on top.

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1 Review

Paige G. December 11, 2022
This is a stunning dish and relatively simple. My husband is not a fan of potatoes and he and I both thought these were absolutely delicious.