Monday, October 12, 2009

Home Fries


I love French fries. Who doesn't? I'm especially partial to the fries at Le Petit Cafe, an unpretentious French bistro that I consider one of the best restaurants in the New Haven area. They are golden, crisp and not at all greasy, with a wonderful fried potato flavor.

I've eschewed making French fries at home, fearing the fuss and mess. I have also, rightly or wrongly, perceived making them to be dangerous because of a story I did years ago about a couple who burnt down the house while making French fries. Admittedly, they both appeared to be elderly alcoholics, but walking through the charred remains of their home with that horrible burnt-house smell in my nostrils as the husband described flames shooting from the oil put the fear of God in me.

That said, I have increasingly taken to heart Julia Child's sage advice: Don't be afraid. So a few weeks ago when I was trying to settle on what to make with mussels, I decided to give French fries a try. Nothing goes with mussels like fries. My wife, daughter and I have wonderful memories of digging into a heaping pot of mussels cooked in garlic and wine during our trips to Quebec. Accompanying those mussels was always a pile of perfectly cooked fries.

I pulled out my trusty "How to Cook Everything" by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and found French fries. I will not recount the recipe as I've decided to be more respectful of copyrights, but it was relatively quick and easy, and yielded some of the best French fires I've ever tasted. The key appears to be frying them twice. Get the book. It's the best cookbook I've ever used.

I've made fries twice since and each time they've come out perfectly. French fries: They' re not just for restaurants any more.

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