Monday, February 21, 2011


As I previously stated, my husband and I traditionally eat in on Valentine's Day. I am going to apologize ahead of time for the lack of the pictures posted here, because my husband took them, and he, generally, has a hard time with my camera. Not that it is at all user friendly. It is something that hopefully will soon be donated to my sister or some other charitable cause and replaced.
I always ask my husband  what he wants to eat on these occasions, and on the menu this year we had: coconut shrimp with marmalade dipping sauce; spring green salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts; Ribeyes (shocker) with herb butter; green beans (shocker) with brown butter; steak fries (shocker); and we finished up with apple turnovers.
I was experimenting with a few recipes that I am going to put on my catering menu, and I am very happy with all of them. I don't think I am going to give you all of those recipes in this post...maybe just one. I think I would like to talk about my journey with french fries.
It started about a year and a half ago, when I started making them at home. They are quite delicious, but they lack the really crispy outside and soft, fluffy inside that makes fries so desirable. The issue I had with, let's just call them 'home-fries', is that they got soggy quickly, and they only had that really crunchy texture when they were far too hot to comfortably eat. I tried several different things, like cutting them very small, frying them longer, bathing them in ice water, etc. I even saw something that suggested boiling them first. I don't quite understand  how they would retain their shape. And, after all that, I still wasn't happy. Why can't I get the texture I want?
Then, last month, Food Network magazine had a little blurb (actually, it was a few pages) about making perfect fries at home. The trick? Fry them a little bit, then freeze the french fries for an hour before frying them for your meal.
Well, why not? I have tried practically everything else. So, I experimented on my husband. I cut the fries like steak fries (basically, oversized half-ovals), used a good amount of corn oil, mixed with bacon grease and fried them for about two minutes. I placed them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and popped them in the freezer. As a side note, this was really helpful because you can't cut potatoes ahead of time without them turning all rusty. This way, they were half-way done and I had more time for other last minute prep. So, I fried them up, and they were pretty amazing! If you want you can throw them on a baking sheet and keep them in a 200 or 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes while you finish frying up the rest. I was pretty impressed. Definitely a keeper!

Steak Fries
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled if desired
3 cups oil, grease, lard, or fat
1 Tablespoon each of : salt, paprika, Parmesan cheese

Slice potatoes into fries, transferring to a bowl of tepid water as you go. Cut fries by cutting them in half lengthwise, then lay each cut side down and slice lengthwise into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Stack about half the slices and cut lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch fries. Repeat with the rest. Heat 2 inches of the oil in a deep wide pot over medium heat until it registers 375.
Drain and dry the potatoes. Add half the potatoes to the pot and fry, stirring gently, until they soften and blister, 3 to 4 minutes (do not let them color). Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Transfer to the freezer until firm, at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, reheat the oil to 375 over medium-high heat. Working in 4 small batches so the oil stays hot, fry the potatoes until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to fresh paper towels to drain. Combine salt, paprika, and Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle over fries.

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