First “Trial and Error”…how I discovered “Potato Bacon”

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Well folks, it’s Saturday.  And that means, I’m coming up for air.  I’ve been studying like a maniac for the last few days to try to make up for the 4 days I missed while in West Virginia for my grandmother’s viewing and funeral.  I definitely would like to take this time to thank all of you for your incredible support and thoughtful words during this hard time for me.  As you know from a previous post, my grandmother was very dear to me and losing her is the hardest loss I have ever dealt with to date.  Unfortunately, it couldn’t have come at a worse time, because as you all know from my obsessively annoying twitter updates and pictures, I am studying for the BAR.  Gross.  Anyway…on to happier things…

Here are some things that make me happy:  Top Chef, trying new things, and bacon.  So here I go trying to mix all those into one.

I had just watched this episode of Top Chef (season 3) where the contestants in their “Quickfire Challenge” had to make “paupiettes” or potato-wrapped fish.  It seemed simple enough and so I thought I would try it.  I didn’t have a mandoline but I thought it would be okay because of my superb knife skills (ok I don’t have superb knife skills but I thought I would try anyway)… Well, apparently, using a mandoline is extremely important.  I ended up not being able to slice the potatoes thinly enough so that they would wrap around the fish.  FAIL.

So now here I am, stuck with a beautiful filet of halibut, gorgeous leeks just waiting to be the bed for this potato-wrapped fish, and potato slices too thick to wrap around.  Definition of a trial and error.  So here’s what I did instead:

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The Elements:
2 Halibut fillets (original recipe used Sea Bass but our store was out so I opted for Halibut)
1 Russet potato
1-3 leeks (depending on how many you are cooking for–it was just me, so I only used 1 leek)
4-5 tbsp. butter, plus another 1-2 tbsp. of melted butter
1 tbsp. dry white wine
salt & pepper
fresh thyme
fresh chives
1/4 shallot diced (optional)

Procedure:
Halibut:
For the fish, I simply trimmed the fillets and seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme
I melted a tablespoon of butter over medium heat and cooked the fish for about 8 minutes on each side (this may be over-doing it a bit, I was going off of the recipe where you cook it with the potato wrapped around it, so you would actually probably need to cook for less time)… it doesn’t really matter, you can cook the fish however you want, this recipe is really about the potatoes!

Leeks:
Wash your leeks thoroughly to ensure they are clean; they need to be cleaned more than other vegetables so be sure to take the time to do this.
Slice the white part of the leek(s) as thinly as possible
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan/pot over medium heat
Add the leeks and cook until softened (about 5-8 minutes)  Add the white wine to the leeks about half-way through the cooking and stir in completely
Season with salt and pepper to taste

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Potatoes:
Ok so here’s the point of this post!  Finally, I know right?  Sorry I’m wordy, I DID go to law school, but obviously missed the part of the writing class when they told us how to be concise…whoops.
So here I was with potato strips, too thick to wrap a fish but too thin to do anything else I had ever heard of done with potatoes…so I made it up.
I had started with washed, peeled potatoes (1-2) and cut off the sides of the potato to make it into a “block” shape without cutting off the ends
Then, I sliced them as thinly as I possibly could without using a mandoline
I used the melted butter (1-2 tbsp) and brushed each side of the potato slices with butter
I then seasoned them with salt and pepper and some fresh chives
Next, I melted 1 tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat and cooked the potato slices on each side (without moving them) for 8-10 minutes (can add in shallots while cooking, if desired)

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I layered the plate with the leeks first, two strips of “potato bacon” and the fish on top with a sprig of fresh thyme on top.  I got the leeks into a nice little circle by putting them into a ramekin and then turning it upside down on the plate…I’m not a fancy chef yet, so I don’t own a metal ring (all in due time) but that would have worked just as well/better since that’s their entire purpose.

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The Verdict:
I ended up with what looked like bacon.  It tasted like bacon too, in a weird way.  A wonderfully weird way.  My boyfriend, and official taste-tester of all of my recipes, found it curious how much they tasted like bacon.  We’ve made potato bacon since, as it is an incredibly easy and fun way to eat potatoes!  I highly recommend it.  It tasted incredible against the buttery soft leeks and the deliciously tender white fish.  It added a great texture contrast that really made the meal fantastic.   I love a little crunch in my meals, don’t you?  Well if your answer is “yes,” then definitely give this a try!  You won’t be disappointed!  Okay now go make them and leave a comment if you like it!  You are, after all, my jury!

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