Mike, Julie & Willem Day 6: A new way to make French fries.

June 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm 6 comments

Of course we ate more than just fries today, but this was the meal most worth reporting. I haven’t been too creative today – I’ve got more deadlines than usual, and am stretching myself as thin as my food hamper. (Thinner, even – we aren’t at risk of running out of food anytime soon. We are running short on options, though. Tomorrow – more plantains!)

But check this out – yesterday I followed a trail of bread crumbs (fry grease?) to an old Cooks Illustrated post about French fries (this is what happens when I’m supposed to be working) – it seems they burned through about 50 lbs of potatoes to come up with this method, wherein cold potato is set in cold oil in a pot and then brought to a boil together, much like you’d do when boiling potatoes (in water). The crazy part is – there’s apparently less oil in these cold-start fries than in traditional ones. I don’t understand why, but I never did that well in science. And I ditched chemistry for bio.

I’ve been dying to get in the kitchen and try something new, which has been difficult with the dwindling hamper on our dining room table. But I have potatoes! I have oil! I have salt! Giddy-up.

With fries like this, you need a good wobbly homemade mayo. And hey! I have eggs! I have oil! It’s clearly a sign.

So – you can go to see the original recipe at Cooks Illustrated, but it does seem a little wordier than I think it needs to be. (Not suggesting I know more than Cooks Illustrated, of course. But I did streamline it a little.) I didn’t measure my oil, nor my potatoes. I didn’t use bacon fat (although that does seem worth a try, don’t you think?). I cut two potatoes (unpeeled) into even sticks and put them in a pot, and covered them with canola oil. I did as I was told and covered the pot to bring it to a boil, which did indeed take about 5 minutes, but then I took the lid off (there’s condensation there – you don’t want that in your oil) and let it bubble away. It was odd, like I was boiling potatoes, only with oil. I didn’t wait to give them a stir though-I did so at about 10 minutes. Not sure what the difference is.

Anyway, in about 20 minutes they were beautiful and golden, and I took them out to drain on paper towels and showered them with salt. They had a lovely texture.

And mayo. I’ll send you over to Delicious Days – they have a wonderful tutorial.

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Entry filed under: Julie.

Time to catch up – Darren and Jen Plantain overdose!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. armikaipainen  |  June 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Julie – you and your mayo saved me! I was feeling a little hopeless with the remaining contents of my hamper. Those two cans of tuna were staring me in the face for days. If only I could make a tuna sandwich… but couldn’t imagine it without mayo… (or without lemon, salt, cilantro and tomato but I definitely don’t have those ingredients!)

    I adjusted the amount of oil to accommodate for the mini egg. And I’ve just enjoyed a glorious sandwich and have made one for my lunch tomorrow (my last weekintheirkitchen meal!) I also have mayo left over for coleslaw, assuming one of the coleslaw packages is still reasonably fresh – one of them is definitely slimy and inedible:(

    I must confess, in making the mayo I used a small package of mustard that we nabbed from an unnamed food vendor… Mark was desperate for his hotdogs…

    I made my mayo with an immersion blender – certainly a luxury. Maybe I should have tried to make it with a fork or whisk.

    I also love that this mayo is fresh, and made from real ingredients without preservatives! Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  • 2. Alex  |  June 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Julie

    great mayo recipe! I am a FoodBank volunteer who is following this project with interest.

    My daughter is currently living on a small island in the Caribbean called Dominica, and obtaining food can sometimes be interesting. She says she actually has dreams of supermarkets! However they always have plantains available. She has learned a couple of things from the local ladies and one of the things they do with plantains is stuff them:

    cut the plantains into four lengthways and saute them (I think they use bacon fat), Drain and when they are cool enough to touch, shape each into a circle and hold together with a stick (or toothpick!). Now they make a filling with ground beef or goat ( I’m sure that was not available in the hamper this week!) but it sounds like a basic filling like we use in green peppers, say. I was thinking if you still have mushrooms, rice, onions, green peppers, maybe tomatoes, you could do a vegetarian one – but I know you’d be able to come up with a filling!

    Fill each plantain circle, dip into a beaten egg and deep fry in oil, browning both sides.

    It sounds like you are all getting plenty of food but it is a challenge and/or time-consuming to construct a nutritious supper.

    Reply
  • 3. dinnerwithjulie  |  June 7, 2010 at 4:52 am

    Ooh, sounds wonderful! But the mushrooms are gone and we didn’t get rice, onions or peppers.. boo! but there’s always next week – I still have some left!

    Reply
  • 4. dinnerwithjulie  |  June 7, 2010 at 4:53 am

    I didn’t mean boo in the way that it sounded (as in boo I didn’t get that stuff) – I meant it would have been a great thing to make!

    Reply
    • 5. Alex  |  June 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Hmmmm – I thought rice was a “Guaranteed Item” but I may be out of date with that. Knowing that one of the other participants missed their pasta, another Guaranteed Item, makes me realize when we put together hampers, we should try and check more often. It’s hard with so many volunteers, especially occasional volunteers and one-time groups.
      Regarding produce, that is such a “hit and miss” affair. There are some days in the summer when there is a tremendous amount available. But one never knows what we will be given, and it has to be given out immediately.
      Thank you for participating in this project – it has been a learning experience in many ways. That comment is for everyone!

      Reply
  • 6. Julie  |  June 8, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Alex – I think it’s rice or pasta that’s guaranteed – some of us got rice, and I got two packages of pasta! and a bag of potatoes. so I’m not complaining.

    Reply

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