I'm not normally a fried dinner kind of woman. But every once in a while, like the Day of the Doughnut, I go all out with the grease. Tonight was one of those nights.
It all started last Sunday, when my otherwise sane husband had the sudden, random craving for....I shudder to say it...Long John Silver's, that castle of cholesterol whose food leaves me mysteriously and intensely THIRSTY a few hours later, for what reason I don't KNOW. They must pack in EXTRA sodium or something! I... A moment while I compose myself, please.
There that's better.
Basically, his attack boiled down to a craving for fried fish. After I assured him that I could take care of that need for him in the coming week's menu, the LJS mania passed. Which was a good thing, since the nearest....you know...is a twenty minute drive away. Really, was it worth all that?
Not any more, it's not. Tonight I not only fried fish for him and my equally grateful son, but french fries, too, using the cold oil method that I've read about twice, once in Cook's Illustrated and then on a blog called Going Country. My husband declared that both beat LJS (sorry guys) cold...so to speak. (I promise that pun just slipped right out.)
Thus, I am here tonight to officially join what must surely be the long line, somewhere in cyber space, of fans of this potato frying method. I hear that it solves the hot oil problem of overcooking the starchy insides of the potato in order to cook the outsides to a lovely goldenness. (Spell check keeps indicating that goldenness isn't a word, but I don't care. It ought to be, don't you think?) Since I've never actually made French fries at home, I didn't know until I read the Cook's Illustrated article that such a problem existed. I don't remember noticing it when buying fries at restaurants, perhaps because the food service industry has solved the problem by double frying (learned that at school) or by some laboratory method I probably don't want to know about. But then again, I haven't ordered fries in so many years that I probably just don't remember.
Regardless, I loved these fries and ate them greedily. No sogginess from laying under the heat lamp here. (It's all coming back to me now.) These babies emerged with an ethereally light crustiness and that appetite stimulating golden color. They were perfect. And with little effort.
That's the real beauty part. Other than cutting up the potatoes, there's no work to it other than watching carefully during the last few minutes for that perfect color to arrive. Just put the cut potatoes into a deep pot, cover them with cold oil, turn the heat to medium, and forget about them for 25 minutes, except for gently stirring them occasionally to prevent sticking and encourage even cooking. When the 25 minutes are up, you turn the heat to high for 5 to 10 minutes for the big finish. Goldenness! Fish them out onto a paper towel lined tray, salt them, and run to the table to eat. We did.
It's ridiculous how exciting our Fried Meal Extravaganza was to us. Dave was moved to take pictures of the sizzle action. We stood over the pot as if we were expecting a magical happening. And we were in such a rush to eat them while they were at their amazing best that we (well, really Dave, because he thinks more like a blogger than I do) forgot to take a picture of the finished fries. And they were on my Austrian ironstone, too. Darn! Sorry about that. We couldn't help ourselves. Even I, the healthy-food snob, could not deny the brief but powerful allure of the fried potato.
Oh, and there was fish and zucchini slaw, too. Whatever. The supporting actress stole the show.
Like the doughnut fry, this is a rare event at my house. Although the thrill of beautifully fried food is very real, it quickly becomes too much for me if indulged in with any sort of frequency, so I don't have plans to repeat this orgiastic feast anytime soon. But when it's blow out time, I'll definitely use the cold oil method. Thanks Cook's Illustrated and Kristin at Going Country.