Wednesday, May 13

Frying Times

Swine flu. Having nothing to do. A boss that is trying to deport you.
Come on, $25,000 Pyramid lovers, any guesses?
Brrrww: "The trying times Margee has had these last few weeks?"
Bing, bing! We have a winner!!!

If "Aaarggghh" (nice and phlegmy at the end) has ever been your standard response of disbelief and frustration for about a solid two weeks or longer, then I think you know where I'm coming from. Things and people that suck, just suck.

Fortunately, things have wound down. My back is feeling less and less like knotted tree roots and the "aarrrggh" sound is turning back into actual words, because swine flu scares have eased (mainly my boredom at being in my tiny apartment) and the aforementioned boss is no longer the boss. Woot, woot!

To really ease myself out of these trying times I have made a few visits to my friendly papas francesa man and turned the oil up to eleven for a little fryin' of my own.

I know there are the healthier comfort food options, but I prefer the unhealthy ones in particular trying times, because it's like a little gift. You're acknowledging that things suck and allowing yourself to partake in something you might not normally. Like your mind is saying "Yeah, it has been pretty bad. You go right ahead and eat those french fries while you stare darkly at nothing and listen to Leonard Cohen. Why don't you put a little more mayonnaise on them while you're at it?" Ahh. Thanks for understanding, mind, I think I will.

Every trick will tell you some different trick that is supposed to make the best french fries. Soaking in water, russet potatoes, chilling, draining--I have no idea. I've done it a thousand different ways and I really can't tell you what works best other than: hot oil + potatoes. Actually I don't even care if there are potatoes. Sweet potato fries (bake or fry) and these polenta fries have been some spud alternatives that I'm extremely fond of.

Regardless of what kind you want to make, I'm not going to run tests and tell you the best methods, I'm still in final stages of recovery, people! I'm leaving that part to you or you checking out Cook's Illustrated. They always have fantastic test kitchen recommendations to get "the best" of whatever. And their covers are just so dang purty.

My focus is on the eating of the fries. And what I want to be eating them with ( I mean sauce-wise because obviously I want to be eating them with beer).

My street french fries come with heavy drizzlings of mayonaise, catsup, hot sauce, and a nacho-cheesey sauce. I highly recommend recreating these. I would use Valentina for the hot sauce and maybe some Tostito's nacho cheese dip for the cheese. You though I was high class? Well, that was just a lie (but I do recommend eating these with a fork.)

If you aren't into the sloppy street-style fries, maybe make a variety of sauces to accompany your fries. Before Christmas at my family's Belgian Night, I made a trio of sauces to go with our fries.

Saffron Aïoli Bon Appetit August, 2006
  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon saffron threads
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
reheat oven to 350°F.

Wrap each garlic head in foil and roast until soft, about 1 hour. Unwrap and let cool. Peel cloves and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and lemon. Set aside.

Place 2 tablespoons hot water in small bowl. In small, dry skillet over moderate heat, toast saffron for 30 seconds. Stir into hot water, then fold saffron water into egg mixture.

In blender, combine 4 tablespoons canola oil, raw garlic, roasted garlic, and salt. Blend on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg mixture and blend 1 more minute. With motor running, very slowly add olive oil and remaining canola oil in steady stream, and continue blending until thick, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Bloody Mary Catsup--I created this with store bought catsup, but added some items for a little more spice and a little less sugar, because for me, store bought catsup is much, much too sweet and this felt all fancy.
  • 1/2 C prepared catsup
  • 1/2 C tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp chopped sweet red peppers
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (preferably Tabasco)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Dump all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

Not that salt isn't a respectable and adequate companion for the fry-world, but sometimes in your darkest hours you got to jazz things up a bit. It doesn't even need to be very involved. Throw some garlic and parmesan cheese into store bought mayonaise and be thankful for those lovely Belgians that have given us possibly the most beautiful of coping mechanisms.


  1. Amazing. I'm going to have to make fries now. I made my very own Pad Thai last night and thought of you. And now all I can think of is 'you ain't nuthin but a hound dog...'. Interesting.

  2. I miss those papas con todo SO bad!! The picture of the nearly-finished styrofoam plate o'fries made my mouth water. I've been eating quite healthy since my return to the hinterlands, but I would kill for a heaping serving from the papas man...