Wednesday, June 11, 2008
My mother tells me that when she and my father were dating, they often cooked together. I imagine this to mean that she toiled away in a hot and un-airconditioned kitchen in 1970's Spain while he watched soccer with coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Regardless of the conditions, the meal was undoubtedly delicious, and I'm told, never, ever without garlic fries. My dad loves them and for the first few years they were together, every meal saw a tower of golden fries studded with crispy brown garlic. The fries made a resurgence last night when, after a busy day at work and a very sweaty volleyball game (97 degrees and no air conditioning--awesome!) my mother finally made me dinner.
I had a few inch-thick pork chops in my fridge from the excellent meat market down the street. The rooms in the market are refrigerated and categorized by type, which is just plain genius. If it hadn't been for my lack of sweater I surely would have stayed and purchased a cartful of different meats, so it's probably for the best that I was under dressed. So, my mom took the last two chops I had and breaded them with a side of the aforementioned garlic fries. The trick to making sure these fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside is using good, clean, light oil. I like vegetable or canola oil, and always keep the heat on medium high. The difficult thing is making sure that the garlic actually browns slowly and doesn't just burn into acrid black pellets. It's also important to salt the potatoes only just before adding them to the oil so that none of their moisture is drawn out. Lastly, the fries should be cut no thicker than 1/4 inch thick. Otherwise, the outside will burn in the time it takes to get the inside cooked, and the whole thing will be dry.
As a precaution, it's also helpful to make sure the oil more than covers whatever quantity of potatoes you're working with, and to keep them moving so they don't stick to the bottom or each other. It's a pretty basic recipe, but I've written it out just in case. And if you're anything like my mother, you'll serve this dish with a simple lettuce and onion salad topped with olives :)
Simple Garlic Fries
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick fries
2-3 cups light oil (vegetable, canola or peanut are best)
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped (not too small or it'll burn)
1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet (I always use a heavy non-stick) until hot, but not so hot that it's smoking.
2. Season potatoes with salt and chopped garlic. Add to oil and cook until golden brown and delicious. Enjoy!