Summer Apps: Fries, Sauce and Pickled Okra
It has been far too long since I’ve had a couple of days off to concentrate on simply relaxing and cooking. My hobby is more often than not, the pursuit of better eating. We all enjoy activities that we’re good at don’t we? Cooking, or the preparation of food is no exception, at least for me.
I’ve played with the idea of starting up my own food cart at the local Farmers market starting in September. An idea that feels more and more real as the days go by. Although it’s not a sure thing until I actually take possession of the necessary equipment.
It has been decided after many months of being mentored by my good friends at The Poor Porker, that an ideal option would be to specialize in the most amazing french fries you can find, something most of us absolutely adore. I’m betting on this reasoning at least.
After months of researching and testing different fry techniques, I’m confident that I’ve got the process to where I can put out a high quality product that will be easy enough to execute at a high level of output. Well, higher than what we home cooks would be used to. Unless of course you normally cook 50 lbs of Potatoes at a time.
With the “perfect” fry, which is what I strive for, comes the other important goal. Giving my local friends and acquaintances of the Farmers Market a change of pace in the flavor department. I want to help show off some of the incredible tastes the cuisines of the world have to offer. I know it will start off by being simple, maybe just using different spice blends and sauces. But I think everyone deserves to take a trip to Paris or maybe the coast of Morocco, even if you can’t afford the airfare. Honestly, I’ve never had a chance to go to Europe. That doesn’t mean I have to limit myself to my region of the worlds typical flavors. Why would I want to punish my tongue for my own financial inadequacy?
This leads me to this past weekend where once again, I found myself practicing fries, my sauces and hospitality in general. I’m not going to keep my technique a secret because the process is widely known. I use a double fry method, where you cook the potatoes at a low temp to cook them through. Then you follow with a higher heat, and a shorter cook time after freezing them overnight. This makes them creamy on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside. I know you can make these at home. Although, you don’t need to now that you have me!
Saturday I tested out my cookery accompanied by my homemade Ketchup that I will actually not give many details about, except that it has my wife’s approval which is the most important thing in the world to me. Everything else I think will be fair game.
Such as the Meyer Lemon Aioli I plan on serving every once in a while.
You can do it by hand, which I think everyone should do at least once in their lives, to really appreciate the old world elbow grease that goes into it. Or you can be a weak little baby and use a food pro. All you need to do is this:
Throw 2 garlic cloves (or if you’re Jimmy, 5 or 6), the juice and zest of a Meyer Lemon, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 room temp egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon of cold water in a small food pro. You should have set aside about 3/4 of a cup of Olive oil into some sort of easily pourable container. First pulse the food pro with little drips of the oil at a time. Literally, drip by drip. As the mixture begins to emulsify, slowly add a little more oil. Just a little at a time. Listen. This isn’t swing dancing. It’s not slow, slow, quick, quick. It’s slow, slow, slow, slow. From experience I know that doing it too fast isn’t a wise course of action. On the same note, going super slow has never produced a failed attempt. Hey pal, I’m talking about aioli!
If you do choose to make fries and this aioli, maybe you can make a little spread of vegetable based apps to counteract the luxurious richness of the frites and sauce.
My recommendation would be this play on an old southern classic, okra pin wheels. This only has 3 components and they all come pre-made so all you have to do is be like the Avengers and ASSEMBLE!
Here’s what you need:
1/4 of cured meat such as Speck, Serrano, or Prosciutto. Or just smoked ham if you can’t find anything else. I would highly recommend finding you closest purveyor of La Quercia meats, and stocking up on their quality goods.
1 Jar of Pickled Okra. Don’t freak out about this. It’s not slimy when you pickle it. Trust me it’s awesome.
1 tub of either European style sour cream or just regular cream cheese.
Take your meat and lay it on a cutting board. Take a schmear of the cream and spread it to make a thin layer on the meat. Take a stalk of okra and cut off the top and place at one end of the meat cream marriage. Roll up like a cigar. activities into 1 inch pieces and place on serving dish. Willingly accept the hugs and kisses of your loved ones as they shower you with praise for concocting such a triumph in simple elegance.