The Passover Potluck is a unique annual online event. I’ve invited my friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to share recipes that are kosher for Passover. My goals are simple– to foster mutual understanding between different cultures, to introduce you to my foodie friends, and to share yummy recipes and cooking ideas for Passover! To learn more about the Passover holiday, click here.
Passover Potluck 2013 is generously sponsored by Idaho Potatoes.
“Don’t fear the schmaltz!” I often have the urge to holler this phrase from the rooftop… or at least from the top of my kitchen stepstool. Schmaltz (aka rendered chicken fat) has received a bad rap over the past several years, in large part because it contains cholesterol. Recently, however, schmaltz has been “rediscovered” as a cooking fat due to a renewed interest in the work of Weston A. Price and the paleo diet. It’s an important ingredient in many traditional Jewish recipes, and is a must-know for anybody wanting to prepare authentic Ashkenazi cuisine. Historically, it was used by Eastern European Jews who needed a kosher, dairy-free cooking fat that could be served alongside meat. Goose schmaltz was the more common choice in Eastern Europe. Jewish immigrants to America began to rely on chicken fat as chicken meat was more popular and easier to obtain. Schmaltz fell out of favor in the U.S. with the advent of margarine, shortening, and other processed non-dairy fats. While I don’t promote the overuse of schmaltz, I do vastly prefer it to processed alternatives like margarine. In moderation, schmaltz is an underutilized cooking fat that can add a tremendous amount of flavor to your cooking.
In this recipe, a traditional French potato preparation takes on a new personality with the addition of schmaltz. Potatoes Lyonnaise are usually made by frying onions and pre-boiled potato slices, usually in butter or olive oil or a combination of the two. Some preparations call for animal fat, but most rely on butter for a rich flavor. Here, I’ve used chicken schmaltz along with olive oil to infuse the potatoes with meaty, dairy-free flavor. Caramelized onions, lots of salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill make this a somewhat Yiddish-inspired take on the French dish. Idaho potatoes are a great choice for this dish, they cook up crispy and golden brown on the outside, light and fluffy within. You can serve these Schmaltz Potatoes Lyonnaise with a kosher meat meal because they don’t include any dairy; they’re also gluten free and kosher for Passover. I also love nothing more than a breakfast (or brunch, or brinner…) of scrambled eggs and a side of potatoes and these potatoes fit the bill perfectly.
To learn how to make schmaltz, click here. You can also purchase frozen schmaltz in most kosher markets. For a terrific iPad cookbook written by Michael Ruhlman that is completely dedicated to schmaltz, click here.
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Schmaltz Potatoes Lyonnaise
- 1 3/4 lbs Idaho® potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp schmaltz
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the potato slices in a medium pot, cover them with water and ½ tsp salt, and bring to a boil.
- Once the potatoes reach a boil, let them cook for 4-5 minutes till they become just fork tender. Watch carefully, they can easily become overcooked and soft if you don’t watch them like a hawk. As soon as they’re cooked, drain them in a colander. Spread them out in a single layer on top of a bed of paper towels and gently pat dry. Let them cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium till hot. Place the sliced onions into the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir. Cover the skillet with a lid, reduce heat to medium low, and let the onions cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, till the onions soften and caramelize. During the last minute of cooking, add the minced garlic and sauté till fragrant. Pour the cooked onions out of the skillet and into a bowl; reserve.
- Melt 2 tbsp of schmaltz in the skillet over medium high heat. Place the cooked potato slices into the hot schmaltz spread out in a single layer. Let them fry undisturbed for 6-8 minutes till golden brown and crisp.
- Flip the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to fry for another 5-7 minutes till golden.
- Remove potatoes from heat. Stir in the sautéed onions and garlic. Sprinkle with fresh chopped dill. Serve.