Slow-Fried French Fries
There are certain foods that are better when not made at home, like french fries. To achieve golden-brown perfection, you have to fry them twice: first at a low temperature, to poach them; then at a high heat, to crisp them up. Very tasty, very much a pain in the neck. A few years back, I read about how French chef Joel Robuchon supposedly does it at his house: He puts sliced potatoes in a pot of cold oil, turns on the heat, and lets them go. It sounds too simple to work. But as the temperature rises, the potatoes cook from the outer layer in until the fries are wonderfully crunchy outside and creamy in the center. You’ll never make fries any other way-even if you’ve never made them before.
Preparation Peel 2 lb. large russet potatoes; cut into long french-fry sticks, about 3/8×3/8 inches thick. Rinse; shake off water.
Transfer potatoes to a large deep heavy pot, spreading potatoes so they’re no more than 2 layers deep. Pour in safflower or vegetable oil to cover potatoes by 1″. Place pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes (oil will begin bubbling gently). Continue cooking, occasionally loosening potatoes from the bottom of the pot with a heatproof spatula, until potatoes are very tender, 25-30 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes longer (oil will bubble more vigorously).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to paper towels to drain. Season with coarse sea salt.
Mix all ingredients except potatoes in large bowl. Put frozen potatoes into pan, break clumps if necessary. Stir in cheese mixture, mix well.
Crush sour cream & onion potato chips and sprinkle over top of pan.
Cover with aluminum foil, bake for 1 hour at 350°, remove foil & bake for 10-15 min. longer.
Substitutions/Variations: I don’t use onions in mine… but I have bought the potatoes “southwest style” with green peppers. Also, if you don’t like cream of chicken… cream of mushroom or celery or potato or just about anything will do. I usually double the sour cream called for above, and use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter or oleo. Also… in place of the chips I have seen corn flakes or Ritz crackers. Once you get it down, you can adapt it any way you like.
This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes. I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like. They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone. The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter dinner yesterday. Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.
Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list. This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.
People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here. I’ll add that my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown. I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes. (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)
Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:
5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
1½ cups buttermilk
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. corn starch
Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
1 sm. bag bacon bits
bread crumbs (or crackers)
9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
spoon and/or wisk
large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
measuring cup & spoons
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter. Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream, & mayo/Miracle Whip. Stir like a madman.
Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste. Don’t forget to stir.
Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.
Well, there you have it. Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes. I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that? Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me. You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions. Everyone has their own thing that they dig. Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey… A mix may be nice. As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.