Have you seen the episode of “No Reservations” where Anthony Bourdain goes to Uruguay? It’s the one where he gorges on grilled meat – steak, sausages, loins, armadillo – and then meets up with Francis Mallmann, the author of “Seven Fires,”for more grilled meat!
Not long after we saw that episode, Jeff picked up a copy of “Seven Fires,” and I assumed I should be girding my loins for a total meat-fest of suckling this and chimichurried that. But then he opened the book and spun it around to show me the recipe he was obsessed with making: Potato Dominoes. Baking potatoes that are trimmed into potato bricks, sliced thinly, brushed with clarified butter and baked at an angle, so they look like rows of fallen dominoes.
I thought the domino arrangement was just for show, but I stand corrected. Since you don’t rinse the potatoes or place them in water after you slice them, the starch glues the potato slices together and allows each one to have a crisp top half, a soft bottom half and crisp brown edges. Mercy. Making these isn’t easy as throwing a potato into the oven, but once you start peeling away slice after buttery slow-roasted slice, you’ll be able to taste the extra effort. If the potatoes are this good, it makes me wonder about that armadillo.
Adapted from Francis Mallmann’s “Seven Fires”
For entertaining, you can cook the potatoes halfway through (20 minutes), and set aside at room temperature. Then return them to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
- 4 Idaho (baking) potatoes (the “longer,” the better)
- 4 tablespoons chilled clarified butter (see below)
- Coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with Silpat, or use a nonstick baking sheet.
- Cut off the two ends off one potato; set aside.
- Trim the 4 sides of the potato to form an even brick. Slice the potato about 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline, keeping the slices in order if you can (like a line of shingled dominoes).
- Hold the stack of potato slices in the palm of one hand, and use the other to shape them back into a brick – as you would a deck of cards. Lay the stack on its side on the baking sheet, and put the reserved potato ends, cut side down, at either end to keep the stack aligned. Then, with the palm of your hand, angle the slices slightly to resemble a line of dominoes that has tilted over. Adjust the end pieces to keep the stack in shape, and align the slices if necessary.
- Dot the top and sides with 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Repeating with the remaining potatoes, keeping the stacks at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned on the edges and tender in the middle when tested with a skewer. Serve immediately.
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- In a small heavy saucepan, slowly melt the butter over medium-low heat; do not stir.
- Remove from the heat, and carefully spoon off all the foam from the top.
- Pour the clear liquid butter through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth (or a paper towel), leaving behind the solids in the pan.
Note: Once cool, the clarified butter can be refrigerated for weeks.