Thursday, February 23, 2012

Everyday Yumminess: Totally Awesome French Fries (and a Tasty Burger)

I've always felt that perfect french fries are an important dish to have in one's making-your-friends-think-you're-a-good-cook repertoire. Historically, I used the method that "everyone" uses: soak in water, fry at low temperature to cook the interior, fry at high temperature to get the exterior crispy, then be sad 2 minutes later when your once-crispy fries have lost all crispiness. (Maybe that last part only happens to me? I don't know...) Poking around the interweb, I can across a lot of blogs (e.g., this one, which has step-by-step pictures) talking about cold oil french fries, a recipe that appears to have originated at Cook's Illustrated (and was inspired there by Jöel Robuchon). In short, they are super-easy to make, incredibly crunchy long after they finish cooking, and even have 1/3 less fat than fries cooked the usual way. Awesome.
There's nothing complicated about the recipe. You start with Yukon Gold potatoes, or something similarly not-too-starchy, cut into batons of whatever size you like your fries to be...
These go straight into a dutch oven with enough oil to cover. (We used 10 cups of canola oil with 3 pounds of potatoes since we were out of peanut oil... but word on the street is that olive oil is great for this, too...)
From here you turn on the burner and bring the oil up to a rolling boil, not stirring at all...
About 10 minutes after the oil is at a rolling boil, stir with some tongs and gently scrape the bottom to make sure no fries are sticking.
After another 10-15 minutes, your fries should be crispy and golden, ready to be removed from the oil and drained.
Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, and you have yourself a batch of perfect fries.
As for what to serve with these perfect fries, we decided to go with burgers based on Thomas Keller's kick-ass recipe (2 parts sirloin, 1 part brisket, 1 part chuck), but to cook them sous vide rather than on the grill. I added a pat of butter on top of each burger before vacuum-sealing, since the meat seemed a little lean and extra butter is always a good thing with burgers...
After about an hour at 126°F, the burgers are a lovely medium-rare throughout.A bit of blow torching combined with a hot skillet provides the final browning to the outside...
... and you have yourself a delicious burger to accompany your perfect fries.
(We were topping this batch with avocado, tomato, sautéed red onion, bacon, and blue cheese dressing... Mmm...)
I often make homemade burger buns and a spicy aioli for dipping my fries in, but decided to go with store-bought buns and good old-fashioned fry sauce this time since it was a weeknight. This meal will definitely be making more appearances around here in the future.

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