My love for French fries started in South America. At a little place called the Extreme Fun Pub in Uyuni, Bolivia (which, if you’re ever there, you’ve got to visit) (along with Minuteman Revolutionary Pizza). We’d just wrapped up a three day tour of the Salar de Uyuni (we met the best people on that little excursion), where I was sick with food poisoning from the moment we got off the night bus from La Paz (AVOID THE VEGETARIAN BUS FOOD AT ALL COSTS) to the moment our tour wrapped up back in Uyuni, three days later. It is no exaggeration when I say those three days were the worst I’ve ever felt. And the fact that I was confined to a jeep with six other people – driving around middle-of-nowhere Bolivia for ten hours a day – didn’t help, either. Looking back, it’s kind of hilarious that I was at my lowest during a time when pay-per-use toilets were the norm, there was super limited access to running water, and we were sleeping on concrete slabs with makeshift mattresses and a dozen layers of blankets (and almost as many layers of clothing). I mean, if that’s not the Universe getting me even for something I did in a past life, I don’t know WHAT it is.
But back to the fries. It was when we were an hour or so away from Uyuni that my appetite resurfaced, and all I could think about were French fries (which is probably because one of the girls in our jeep ate an entire family-size bag of Lays over the course of those three days, so I had greasy potatoes on the brain). We made a bee line for the aforementioned pub and I ordered not one but two plates of deep fried potato batons, and I scarfed them. From that point forward, French fries became my new comfort food. Despite the fact that – for eight years prior – my comfort food came in the form of a perfectly molded and bitter dark bar that was wrapped in a combination of foil and paper.
The transition from sweet and luscious to salty and grease-loaded is enough to still make me scratch my head and wonder HOW the lady who never used to eat French fries suddenly craves them all the time. Which, if you read my last post, you know about. If you didn’t read my last post, allow me to save you the time (and curse word-assault on your eyeballs): I had an aversion to healthy eating toward the end of 2015. And, if I can be honest, I’m still trying hard to resit the urge to eat salty potato things for dinner each night. But here’s the deal: I firmly believe that when your body craves something for days on end, you need it. Maybe not an entire plate of it, but it’s best to satisfy the craving before you roll over to your sleepy husband, at 3AM, and profess that you’ve been awake for the past 30 minutes and have been contemplating getting dressed and walking three blocks to the 24 hour diner for a plate of greasy ass fries.
So, the next day, while we were wandering around one of those massive commercial kitchen supply stores, a French fry cutter caught my eye and I had to have it. In fact, my mouth started salivating when I saw it because I CAN FINALLY HAVE MY FRENCH FRIES AND EAT THEM, TOO! Kind of. Because this recipe makes fries that are probably just as greasy as the ones you’d order off a restaurant menu. They’re just made with better grease. And served with better ketchup. And, just like last week’s recipe, they’re totally acceptable to eat for breakfast. Which kind of makes them a health food, right?
Notes: Although you can achieve great French fry texture by soaking the raw, cut fries in hot water for 30 minutes, I’ve found the best way to achieve a perfect French fry (without all the extra effort) is to use potatoes that have just begun to sprout. They’ll be fairly soft, which is the same thing you’re trying to achieve by soaking the potatoes. You can certainly use potatoes that are sproutless, but the texture of the finished product may be a little off.. unless you give ’em a good soak before tossing with the oil and spice blend. If you’re not into cajun spiced things, feel free to use curry, ras el hanout, or enjoy them sans spice.
BAKED CANJUN SPICED FRENCH FRIES
6-8 small (2 pounds) yukon gold potatoes (see notes above)
1/4 cup (52g) sunflower oil
2-3 teaspoons cajun spice blend
Pinch of fine sea salt (if your blend doesn’t contain salt)
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside. Clean your potatoes and pick out any sprouts that may be starting to form; pat dry. Using a knife or French fry cutter, cut the potatoes into long sticks that are about 1/4″ thick. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss with oil, then cajun seasoning. Line the batons on the prepared sheet (making sure none of them are touching on the long sides) then bake at 425˚F for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Halfway through, give the fries a toss. Once baked, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel (to absorb the excess oil) then serve immediately (preferably with spiced ketchup) (and mustard).
Yield: 4 servings