Friday night at home. With Connie. Now, to most of you that doesn't sound like anything spectacular. Just an evening at home. Except for the fact that for the last six years he's played bridge almost every Friday night. On occasion we've had a Friday evening together but there've not been too many that we could just goof off. And, I'd not been home for several evenings. Our original plan was to do the shopping for the party prep we're going to do this weekend. We also needed to go to Nora Apothecary to get the thyroid meds I have to rub inside George cat's ear every evening. Oops. We got home at 6:08 and they close at 6:00 on Friday evenings. Not only that but we were now home. And, neither of us wanted to leave.
All of the sudden, I realized my dinner had been planned around a rotisserie chicken from Sams. And, we weren't going to Sams. Thursday night I'd been reading Anne Burrell's new cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star. The last recipe I'd read before drifting off to sleep was for duck confit. That meant I had duck confit on the brain. I do love that stuff! I started thinking about how to serve duck confit. How about latkes fried in duck fat with asparagus and a poached egg? Off to the bookshelves to find Molly O'Neill's New York cookbook. I was pretty certain I'd seen a great potato latke recipe there. Bingo. I had. And, we had two packages of homemade duck confit in the freezer.
I've always loved potato latkes but have never tried making them. My favorites are from The Original Pancake House. They've got a location in Indy and one in Chicago. Strangely enough, we get to the Chicago one most often because it's right down the street from the hotel where we stay when I go to Advantage Financial Group board meetings. We typically order the Eggs Michael and savor every bite. Eggs Michael is an english muffin topped with a sausage patty then a poached egg then a fabulous sherry mushroom cream sauce. Potato latkes are on the side. Swoon!!!
What did I learn? You need to drain the potatoes REALLY well. Use a large enough colander so they'll really drain. And, leave them in the colander long enough. I kept having to squeeze the liquid out of the latkes as I was making them. Not a good thing. But, they did wind up tasting fabulous. I'm sure part of that was due to the fact that they were fried in duck fat. Actually, the whole meal was fabulous. This is one that I'll make again!
Potato Latkes with Duck Confit
for the latkes:
makes 6 latkes
1.25 lbs russet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
1/2 large white or yellow onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T matzo meal
2 t chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper
to assemble the dish (per serving:)
6 thin spears asparagus, lightly steamed
crispy duck skin
Put a large, wide colander over a bowl. Peel the onion and cut the half in half. Pulse it in the food processor until it's in bits. You don't want mush here so don't pulse much. Remove the onions to the colander. Wash the potatoes and cut them in hunks to fit in the feed tube on the processor. Use the larger shredding disk and shred the potatoes. Put the potatoes in the colander and allow them to drain.
small colander, piled high, not good
Smoosh them a bit to encourage the liquid to drain. Once the potatoes have adequately drained, pour the liquid from the bowl out. DON'T wipe the bowl. The starch left there is a good thing. Toss the potatoes and onions into the bowl. Add the other latke ingredients: matzo meal, salt and pepper, parsley and egg.
Mix well but lightly. Heat the duck fat in a cast iron skillet. It should be pretty screaming hot when you put the latkes in. You're going to put them in using a 1/4 c up measure. Squash them down so they're 4-5 inches across. Now, reduce the heat and cook the latkes on medium until they're nice and crispy and golden brown.
Turn them and cook the 2nd side until it's nice and crispy. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
I've got to tell you the comment at the end of the recipe from Dave, The Latke King, Firestone: Remove from the room anyone who prefers latkes with sour cream. Serve the latkes immediately. With applesauce.
So, I'm one of those applesauce people and I understand. But, I still got a good laugh out of it!
While the latkes are cooking, you need to crisp up your duck skin. For something with so daggone much fat, it sticks to the skillet. But, it's worth it because it tastes fabulous!
Now, you need to assemble the meal. Start with a potato latke.
Top it with some asparagus spears. More if they're thin, less if they're fat.
Put some shredded duck confit on the asparagus.
Then, you need a poached egg. Now, I used to poach those perfect eggs in the egg cooker. It meant cleaning the stupid little trays. I finally got brave and poach my eggs in simmering water with a bit of vinegar.
They look MUCH better and gosh darn it, they're fun to make.
Finally, garnish the dish with a bit of crispy duck skin and you're ready to inhale.
Latke recipe adapted from The New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill