Dec
22
2009

  How Can We Have French Fries?

Terry continues to surprise me with his sense of wonder at the foods I can cook. He wanted hamburger for dinner tonight, and before I went downstairs to cook it, I asked him if he wanted french fries, too.

"How can we have french fries!?" he demanded. He must have thought I had french fries hidden in the house somewhere and if only he'd known he would have eaten them for a snack long ago.

He seemed skeptical when I told him we still had a few potatoes from his summer garden, and I can make fries from those. But he did want the fries.

I used my knife skills to quickly and neatly whip up a little pile of perfectly even matchstick fries from two potatoes. The knife skills I learned at cooking school have proved to be immensely useful in the years since. I can make nearly anything without fancy equipment, and that makes it far more likely that I will add things to my cooking. If I didn't know proper julienne technique, it would have taken me much, much, longer to make the fries tonight. If I couldn't cut quickly by hand, I would be tempted to get a french-fry-cutter, or mandoline, or some other single-task kitchen gadget. Which would most likely be difficult to clean, which would dissuade me from using it except when I really, really, wanted to make something with it. But being able to cut anything I want with just a knife, and quickly, I'm far more apt to throw things together on a whim. Not that it's some awesome feat of cooking skills to make french fries, but I do love when they look like they come from a fancy restaurant instead of a frozen Ore-Ida bag.

I also vaguely recalled reading somewhere or seeing on the food channel or something a tip to toss the raw potatoes in flour before frying them. So I did that, and it seemed to work really well. It didn't occur to me to do a proper experiment and fry some floured and some un-floured, but I'll do that next time. But without any proof, I got a general sense that the fries were a little crisper and splattered less when being cooked than if they were un-floured.

All I had handy was canola oil, and that really didn't make the best fries ever, although they were ok. I very rarely make french fries, or anything with potatoes at all, until Terry grew an enormous crop of them, because I'm not keen on the carbs. In general, potatoes have to really be worth the calories if I'm going to eat them at all. So next time I make fries, I think I'm going to go for the duck fat.

There is a place in Chicago famous for their duck-fat fries, but it's only on certain days and it hasn't worked out for Terry and I to try them yet. But sometime in the next year I'll make a note to cook a duck, and save some of the fat. Or maybe check out the fancy butcher in the Main Street shops and see if he's got any duck fat for sale.

I used up the last of Terry's home-grown potatoes tonight, but there will be more next summer, and then I will make the best french fries ever. Remind me if I forget!