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.)
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.
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.
Bourbon Duck Fat-Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 tablespoon duck fat
- 2 teaspoons Bulleit bourbon
- 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rough 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound green beans, rinsed, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Maldon salt and bourbon-smoked pepper for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking with the bourbon and the Worcestershire sauce until emulsified. Remove from the heat and stir in the rosemary.
Toss the duck fat with the chopped potatoes and green beans in a large mixing bowl.
Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the green beans are wilted and caramelized in spots, and the potatoes are fully tender and turning golden brown at the edges.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt and bourbon-smoked pepper if desired, and serve warm.