Whiskey and Potatoes – from Kentucky, not Ireland

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on November 12, 2012

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, they say. But a chance to sit down with Tom Bulleit, the founder of Bulleit bourbon? The stuff that makes its way into every Boulevardier and Old-Fashioned I drink? That’s a meal I’d happily pay for. Luckily, I didn’t have to.

I’m sure we should have been talking about the illustrious history of Bulleit and how Tom built the company on his great-great-granddad’s recipe. (It is a pretty cool tale. By the way, the characters on Deadwood drink Bulleit bourbon, and though the bottle might be anachronistic, the spirit itself is not: Tom’s great-great-grandfather Augustus developed the Bulleit bourbon recipe in the 1830s, so Dakota territory miners and shysters may well have been guzzling it back in 1876.)

duck fat and bulleit bourbon
But since Tom is a true Kentucky gentleman (and because we were sitting with a certain Alabama born-and-bred food writer and a gal from North Carolina by way of Mizzou), our conversation naturally turned to football. Hey, I’ll debate the effectiveness of the Steelers’ defensive line, no matter how injury-prone, at the drop of a hat (or a drop of whiskey). But I got distracted.

Instead of a typical bread basket at our lunch, the kitchen sent out a mini cast iron cocotte filled with four piping-hot Parker House rolls, each brushed with duck fat and sprinkled with sea salt. While the rest of the table chattered on about BCS standings and tailgate parties, my mind started to wander.

bourbon and duck fat potatoes
This is where my mind went: potatoes and green beans, slicked in duck fat and Bulleit bourbon. If you’ve never used duck fat, there’s no time like the present, and it’s not as hard to find (or as expensive) as you’d think. Ducks are fatty little beasts—it keeps them insulated and waterproof—so there’s more than enough to go around. A jar of graisse de canard lasts forever in the fridge, and a spoonful in your frying pan does wonderful things to boost the flavor of any ingredient you throw in with its pure and creamy slick of fat. You won’t taste any alcohol in the finished dish here, but the bourbon and duck fat amplify the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

As an added bonus, I use bourbon barrel-aged Worcestershire sauce and bourbon-smoked pepper from Kentucky’s Bourbon Barrel Foods in this dish. You can go ahead and use whatever you’ve got in your pantry, but if you’re a bourbon fan, you might want to dig into their inventory.

bulleit bourbon potatoes
Want a bourbon-infused dessert to end the meal? Try my vanilla bourbon peanut brittle from iVillage.

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