Thanksgiving and mashed potatoes go hand in hand, but this year, we challenge you to think of the other potato possibilities. This recipe, featured in our Thanksgiving 2023 menu, from Chef Michael Rafidi of Washington, D.C.’s Albi is about as far from mash and gravy as you can get, but it’s entirely worth it. The thinly sliced potatoes are first confited in infused butter, then fried to golden brown perfection. Two kinds of Spanish paprika give these potatoes a spicy kick as well as a beautiful ruby hue, and tangy labneh helps cool things off.
Note: This recipe was developed using Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If using Morton’s, reduce salt by half.
We see your mashed potatoes and raise you this recipe.
Make the infused butter: Add clarified butter, garlic, salt, and sweet and hot pimentón to a 2 Quart Stainless Saucepan. Melt butter over medium heat and continue to cook until garlic starts to bubble. Remove Saucepan from heat and allow butter to cool at room temperature while you prepare your potatoes. The resting period will help garlic and pimentón infuse into butter.
Make the spice mix: Add salt and sweet and hot pimentón to a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
Preheat oven to 300F.
Prep the potatoes: Use a Chef Knife to slice top, bottom, and sides of each potato to form a long rectangle. Remove both ends; it’s fine if there is a little skin at edges. Turn potato rectangle so broad side is facing you and slice 5-millimeter (about 3/16-inch) thick pieces, keeping shape of rectangle intact (a mandoline can be helpful here). Transfer some potatoes with a thin metal spatula to a 9x13” Baking Dish in a single layer. Realign pieces to ensure that they are snug and maintain rectangle shape. Spoon a generous amount of infused butter over potatoes and dust with a good pinch of spice mix. Add an additional layer of potatoes until all potatoes are in the Baking Dish. Top with remaining infused butter.
Wrap top of the Baking Dish in foil, ensuring edges have a tight fit. Bake for 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove foil carefully as hot steam will escape, then realign potatoes again if they have shifted during cooking. Place a piece of parchment paper over potatoes, fill a gallon-size resealable plastic bag with 1 ½ liters of water, and gently place on top of parchment. Cooling potatoes under slight pressure will help them stay together during frying. Chill potatoes in the refrigerator until cooled completely (at least 2 hours and ideally overnight).
Fill a large Dutch Oven with 2 inches of oil and attach a deep-fat thermometer to side. Heat over medium-high to 350F. Working in batches and using a slotted spoon or spider, gently slide potatoes into frying oil. Fry until exterior is a rich golden brown, and exterior is crispy, about 3 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally. Transfer to a Sheet Pan Rack set over a Sheet Pan or a paper towel-lined plate. Dust with a pinch of spice mix and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve with a dollop of labneh, a dusting of za'atar, and a sprinkle of chives or parsley.
Note: To make clarified butter, melt 3 sticks (1 ½ cups) butter in a Butter Warmer or 2 Quart Stainless Saucepan over medium-low until bubbling and foaming subsides. Let cool slightly and skim foam off top and discard. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Pour melted butter into sieve, leaving white milk solids behind in the Pan . You should have about ½ pound (8 oz.) of clarified butter to use for this recipe.