Saturday, October 13, 2007

French Fries

Until 2 weeks ago, I hadn't had a french fry since 1999 when I moved back to the United States from Germany. Most french fries in the States are cooked in soy oil or generic "vegetable oil" which usually is a mix with some soy in it. But two weeks ago we went to Brasserie Beck, a Belgian restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. My sister-in-law asked what they fry in, and they told her grapeseed oil. The waitress told us canola oil. No matter, it was not soy, so we ordered some. These fries were perfection. They were the size of MacDonald's fries (skinny) and came hot and crisp, with soft insides, sprinkled with salt and parsley flakes. They don't get soft and flabby, either, when they cool down. They are very popular, and the tables around us were ordering them as an appetiser, just like we did. They come with a trio of mayonnaises--plain, tomato, and curry--to dip them in, but I didn't ask what kind of oil was in the mayo, so I didn't try them. The potatoes were great on their own, though. Why paint the lily, or gild pure gold?

I hate frying (and, as my doctor reminds me, need to lose--ahem--a few pounds) so we don't make french fries at home. We make Oven "Fries" out of either white baking potatoes or sweet potatoes:

Oven "Fries"
serves 4

2 or 3 large baking potatos, or sweet potatoes
canola or light olive oil
salt and pepper OR
Old Bay Seafood Seasoning (particularly good with sweet potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Scrub the potatoes and cut into wedges about 1/4" thick on the wide edge. Put them all in a sealable plastic bowl (like Tupperware) and add a tablespoon or two of oil. Cover and seal the bowl, and turn upside down. Shake vigorously.

Lay out the potato wedges in one layer on the baking sheet. If you have a few too many, lay them crossways on the others on the pan. Salt and pepper, or sprinkle with Old Bay. Bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, turn over all the wedges (you might have enough room for only one layer now, because they shrink a little), season again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Check them. Depending on the potatoes and on how thick they are sliced, they may be done (browned and semi-crispy) or they may need another 5-15 minutes.

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