Wednesday, July 13, 2011

French Fries!

National French Fries Day!!!



I have yet to meet anyone on the planet who does not love these. If these people do exist, they must really be hungry.

The origins of what we now know as the "french fry", began in Belgium in 1680 A.D., however, this is disputed. The most likely origin occurred about 1735 A.D. in what was then the Spanish Netherlands; where they were described simply as "potatoes sautéed in oil." It wasn't until 1860 A.D., when a Belgian, living in Scotland of all places, created what are now known as "chips" that the fried potato fad really took off.


Rumor has it that the term "French Fry" was coined by American doughboys in World War I, who first experienced the treats in Belgium. Not knowing the difference between France and Belgium, hey, they both speak French, the G.I.'s simply called them "French Fries". Even though this story is unsubstantiated, the romantic in me prefers it.


Most Belgian "Frittes" are made using the "twice cooked" method to achieve maximum crispiness on the outside and perfect fluffiness on the inside. This method involves first cooking the potatoes once in oil that is at a low temperature, about 325°F or 163°C, just enough to cook them through. The "blanched" fries are then moved to a much hotter oil, about 375°F or 191°C, to crisp up the exterior and make them GBD (that's Golden Brown and Delicious, ya'll).


As you can imagine, despite the fabulous results with the twice-fried method, this is a real pain-in-the-arse to do at home, especially in a New York City apartment. I prefer to let the professionals handle this method.

So, for me, my favorite solution is baking.

Yes, you read that right.


French Fried "Baked" Potatoes

Crispy, fluffy, and easy. What's not to like?

EQUIPMENT
A 10" x 16" (25 x 41 cm.) Baking Pan
Heavy Tongs
Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
A large Plastic Bag with no holes it it

INGREDIENTS
Two (2) Russet Potatoes
  • INGREDIENT NOTE : The actual type of potato really does matter here. As tasty as they are, waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or Red Bliss potatoes do not work very well because they have a higher moisture content and do not make for a crispy outside and a fluffy inside. So, the plain old Russet is the way to go here
Xtra Virgin Olive Oyl
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

OPTIONAL : Your favorite dried Herb or Spice, see the VARIATIONS section below for details.

TECHNIQUE
Preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C).

Take some Aluminum Foil and line the bottom of the Baking Pan (makes cleanup very easy).

Wash the Potatoes and cut them up into wedges. Place the Potato wedges into the large Plastic Bag.

Add, about two (2) tablespoons of Olive Oyl to the Potatoes in the Bag. Close the Bag and give the Potatoes a good shake to coat them with the oil. Open the Bag and sprinkle in about two (2) tablespoons of Kosher Salt and a few good grinds of Black Pepper. Re-seal the Bag and shake the Potatoes as you dance around the kitchen.

Once you're tired, open the Bag and spread the seasoned Potato wedges in one layer onto the foil lined Baking Pan.

Place the Baking Pan into the oven for about thirty (30) to forty (40) minutes, flipping the wedges over about half-way through with your Heavy Tongs. The 'spuds are done when the outside is crispy and the inside is fluffy; just grab one with your tongs and taste it if you're that concerned.

VARIATIONS
The above recipe is pretty basic and boring. So, let's spice things up! When you add the Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to the bag add whatever spices that you are in the mood for. Feeling zesty? Add some chili powder and some cayenne. Feeling herby? Add some dried Rosemary, or Thyme, or Herbes de Provence. Feeling Indian? Some Madras curry powder and some cumin will do the trick. You get the idea.

Experiment with different amounts and combination of herbs and spices to find your favorite.


©2011 Wait At The Bar




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