This is one of the simplest recipes in Momofuku, but also one of the tastiest, as long as you are willing to cook with lard. I had a slab of unprocessed leaf lard in the Belm Utility Research Kitchen Deep Storage Facility, which meant I got to create my own sub-recipe.
I began with the thawed-out two and a half pound chunk of leaf lard, which is the fat that surrounds a pig’s kidneys.
I chopped it into one-inch pieces, added them to a pot with a half cup of water, and set the mixture over low heat. The water keeps the fat from burning until it reaches rendering temperature.
A few hours later the water had evaporated, the fat had rendered, and the remaining bits of connective tissue had crisped up into cracklings.
I strained the fat into a container and put it in the fridge, them drained the cracklings on paper towels and sprinkled them with salt. I’d show you what they looked like, but my family descended on the plate like rabid wolverines, leaving nothing behind by the time I thought to take a photo.
To make the potatoes, I started with a pound of baby yellow potatoes (scrubbed and either halved or quartered depending on size), four slices of cooked crumbled bacon, a half cup of chopped arugula (any bitter green works), and three cups of lard. (The proportions here are a half recipe, except for the bacon – why skimp on bacon? You can also substitute a neutral oil for the lard, but why would you want to do that?)
I warmed up the lard in a large saucepan over low heat, then added the potatoes. I simmered them for about ten minutes, until just-past-firm tender.
I removed the potatoes from the lard, turned the heat up to medium-high, and waited for the fat temperature to reach 375°F. I fried the potatoes in two batches, about two to three minutes each, until the edges browned.
I removed each batch to a rack lined with paper towels, and salted the potatoes while they were still hot.
I tossed the potatoes with the bacon and greens, and served. For this meal they accompanied thick-cut pork chops I had left over from the previous week’s roast pork loin dinner.
Using baby potatoes or fingerlings is the key to this recipe, as they impart a creamy, buttery taste that contrasts with the bitter greens and smoky bacon. The lard made me think of a pork accompaniment, but this dish goes with almost anything.
I strained the lard back into its container and put it back in the fridge, where it awaits its next frying task. As long as I don’t overheat it or cook something strongly flavored in it, it should last me quite a while.