I didn’t plan to have fries at dinner tonight. Kale was on the menu. But I stopped at our little indoor farmer’s market to pick up a couple pounds of dried beans I order. Katie DeGroot was there with some of her Good Fence Farm grass fed beef. We hardly ever eat beef anymore, except when we know it’s source. Katie mentioned she had packed some osso bucco in the cooler, with me in mind. I bought what she had plus a pound of 85% ground beef. Just like that – I knew we were having burgers for dinner. I keep sweet potatoes in the house for all around versatility and goodness, so they were right at hand when I went looking for a side to go with burgers.
There are a lot of articles about making great burgers but the trick is way too simple to need a recipe. You do need freshly ground, grass fed beef. That’s pretty much it. Salt and pepper, any other seasoning as you see fit then grill, griddle or broil without pressing down on the patty, cook to the doneness you prefer. Some pink in the center is ideal; it won’t taste raw but juicy, succulent and heavenly.
Sweet potato fries were an epiphany for me. Back in 1986, when I was working in New York for a theatrical production company B. Smith opened a restaurant in the theatre district. There I had my first plate of very thin, fried sweet potatoes. At the time it seemed like a revolutionary idea. Sweet, dense, buttery and crispy, they were served mounded up on a platter and drizzled with a tomato barbeque sauce. Since then it has been the rare plate of sweet potatoes fries that could come close to that first night. Until tonight.
Serves 2 – 4
Note: We each had a nice mound of fries on our plates but they were so delicious and addicting we could have eaten twice as many. You decide – this recipe doubles and quadruples.
For a fabulous baked version go to Gluten Free Goddess: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/08/sweet-potato-shoestrings-fries-that-is.htm
1 large sweet potato, skin on.
Vegetable Oil (3 – 5 cups)
Salt to taste
Take one big sweet potato sliced with skin on, into thin rounds on the mandolin. This is the perfect tool for thinly sliced potatoes, making quick work on julienne slicing, and great for making chips and waffle cuts. You can hand cut into thin rounds. Then slice through stack of rounds to make matchsticks (aka allumettes).
Fill your deep fryer with oil, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Preheat the oil to 325 degrees. I cooked in a stockpot, using about 3.5 cups of oil. If you don’t have a fry basket you can scoop fries out with a stainless steel or bamboo skimmer.
A note about oil: You may already have favorite oil. Many sites recommend peanut oil. Lard is a traditional frying fat. Canola is a genetically modified product, and possibly unsafe erucic acid levels. Do some research and experiment.
Carefully lower the slivered fries into the fryer, do not crowd, if you add too much it reduces the temperature of oil, cook for 5 minutes at 325. Remove the fries and set out on paper towels. This is the pre-cooking stage and ensures crispy fries in the final stage. At this point, you can freeze them for later use, or put them in the refrigerator if you plan to use them the next day. They will seem very greasy.
Increase the heat to 375 (I use an instant read thermometer). When you are almost ready to eat, put the precooked sweet potatoes into the hotter oil for 3-4 minutes, or until desired crispiness. Shake the basket or stir the fries a few times to insure even browning. Make sure you watch them to avoid overcooking.
Remove fries from fat, allowing extra oil to drain off, and then spread on an old kitchen towel or paperback, or paper towels. Dust with desired amount of salt, and serve hot! (If the fries cool off a little while to prepare the rest of the meal, place the fries on baking sheet and warm in the oven.)
Saving oil: Here’s another topic you where you can find conflicting info. I strain once used oil through a coffee filter (cheese cloth works well) to remove and particles, pour it into a jar with a tight fitting lid and freeze it. I don’t reuse oil if I’ve cooked anything with a strong flavor, like fish. Since I fry infrequently, I make quite a few batches of French fries before I need to replace it.