April Bloomfield, critically acclaimed chef, restauranteur, and friend of MeatEater, decided to make black bear fat potatoes with frozen bear fat that Steven had gifted her. April noted that the potatoes came out having a clean flavor & good crisp and she was kind enough to send in her recipe for us to try:
Black Bear Fat Potatoes
by April Bloomfield
2 ½ pounds russet (baking) potatoes (2 large, halve lengthwise, or 4 small), rinsed
3 cups frozen bear fat (ground)
Maldon or another flaky sea salt
Put the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by an inch or two. Add enough kosher salt so the water tastes just a little less salty then sea-water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook the potatoes just until you can poke the fattest part with a butter knife without much resistance. (But don’t get poke-happy, or they’ll get waterlogged.) It’ll take 15 to 20 minutes from when they reach the boil, depending on the size of your potatoes.
Drain the potatoes well in a colander and gently shake it so the potatoes knock against its sides and get a bit fluffy and powdery looking on the outsides. It’s okay if they break up a little, but you don’t want them to get too crumbly. Let them sit uncovered while you heat the fat so some water escapes as steam. That way, they won’t sputter and splatter when you fry them.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Pour the bear fat into a flameproof baking dish or deep cast-iron pan large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer with some room to spare. Set the pan over high heat until the fat begins to bubble a little, about 5 minutes. To test whether it’s hot enough, gently touch one of the potatoes to the fat. It should crackle, sizzle, and bubble rapidly straightaway. (If the fat isn’t hot enough when you add the potatoes, they’ll stick to the pan.) When it’s good and hot, gingerly add the potatoes. Cook them in the fat until they crisp up a bit on all sides and get golden at the edges, turning them over occasionally once the first side is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
Carefully put the pan into the oven and cook, checking on and turning the potatoes over every now and then, until they have an even deep-golden, crispy crust all over, 10 to 15 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a plate, and immediately sprinkle them with sea salt, crushing it lightly between your fingers. Spoon on a little of the fat from the pan, if you fancy. I like to let them cool just a bit before I eat them.
More about April Bloomfield:
April Bloomfield has spent most of her life in the kitchen and had the pleasure of working with some of the most revolutionary chefs before taking on a kitchen of her own. A native of Birmingham, England, April began her culinary studies at Birmingham College. From there, she went on to hone her craft through cook positions in various kitchens throughout London and Northern Ireland, including Kensington Place and Bibendum. It was under the guidance of Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray at The River Café where she learned to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of food.
Before moving to New York, April spent the summer of 2003 in Berkeley, California at the legendary Chez Panisse. In February 2004, April and restaurateur Ken Friedman opened New York City’s first gastropub, The Spotted Pig. Under April’s direction, The Spotted Pig has earned one star from the Michelin Guide for six consecutive years, and since 2010, April & Ken’s The Breslin Bar & Dining Room also earned a star in the esteemed guidebook. A Food & Wine “Best New Chef,” April continues to receive widespread attention for her food. In fall 2010, she and Ken opened The John Dory Oyster Bar, which joined The Breslin at New York’s Ace Hotel and earned a glowing, two-star review from the New York Times. April’s first cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, was published by Ecco in April 2012. In October 2013, April & Ken reopened Tosca Cafe in San Francisco which was subsequently awarded a three-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle She is also the co-star of Season 2 of the James Beard Award-winning tv series Mind Of A Chef on PBS.
Follow April Bloomfield on twitter: @AprilBloomfield