Fry Latkes In Duck Fat For A Richer, Umami-Forward Flavor

Buttery, yet relatively bland, potatoes have a versatile flavor profile that makes them especially apt to be seasoned and spiced with any medley of ingredients. As a result, it would be a shame to toss or fry them in neutral-tasting cooking oils. To save spuds from a flavorless fate, duck fat can be used to elevate anything from thick-cut fries to roasted fingerlings. By that logic, why not give latkes the same opportunity?

Duck fat is a favorite cooking fat among chefs for good reason. Given its high smoke point, it won't burn, making it ideal for high-heat cooking methods like frying. In fact, duck fat is revered for its stunning ability to crisp up foods to the nth degree. Beyond encouraging crunchy textures, it can even contribute a richer and silkier mouthfeel when used as the cooking fat of choice. However, the greatest feature of duck fat is that it can impart layers of deeply complex flavor to any recipe, latkes included.

Rendered duck fat is full of savory decadence. Consequently, it can be helpful in amping up the umami in onion-laced latkes. Likewise, it boasts a nuanced sweetness akin to butter, which can do wonders to emphasize the honeyed notes in recipes where sweet potatoes are the star. Not to mention that this sweet edge can keep the savory flavors of the patties balanced. Essentially, it's hard to find a latke recipe that won't benefit by being fried in duck fat.

A guide to frying latkes in duck fat

Duck fat can usually be purchased at your local supermarket. It's also available at specialty grocers and through online retailers. Yet, since it can be on the pricier side, you might even want to consider making your own. The process is as simple as removing all the skin and fat from the meat, before adding it to a stockpot with water and cooking it over low heat. After an hour or so, you'll be left with a golden liquid that can be strained, stored, and used for frying up latkes.

There are two ways that you could go about cooking the shredded potato patties, either by shallow-frying or deep-frying. While the latter ensures a completely crispy crust as the whole latke will be submerged, it requires a lot of duck fat. Eliminating the need for several cups of melted duck fat, shallow-frying can instead provide you with a similar end product, with just a fraction of the fat. Ultimately, whatever you decide comes down to preference. The important thing is that you keep an eye on the time and temperature so that the latkes cook evenly, and properly achieve their iconic golden brown exterior.

Once the duck fat-fried latkes are ready, serve them any way that you please. But, to really accentuate the flavors, we suggest whipping up a spiced quince jam to bring the savory, salt-finished latkes to an ethereal level of gustatory bliss.