Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tortilla Chips and French Fries

My nephew (12) is spending the day with me. He's a normal kid. He loves stuff that crunches and crisps. He is also a walking appetite. I found him rummaging through my pantry and asked if he was looking for anything in particular. He said he wanted to find some chips to clean up the last of the Salsa Bandera I made for breakfast. I told him I didn't have any chips in the house but that it was an easy thing to do. I asked if he liked french fries, and of course, being a twelve year old boy, he said yes. I then asked if he was ready to go to work.

We got our stuff out.

The first thing is to get the oil ready. Use plenty of oil. I am in the process of rotating some of the things in my pantry and one of the items was a tub of Crisco Buttery Flavor Shortening. That stuff is great for pie crusts, but, there was an unopened tub behind this one, and I wasn't sure how long it had been there, so I figured "Perfect use."

If using a solid type of fat, I recommend doubling the melted volume of the shortening, or prepared french fryer goop with something lighter and able to withstand higher temperatures like peanut oil. You want to bring it to 375°.

While the oil is coming up to temp cut your tortillas into wedges of eight to a disc.

Scrub your potatoes, and cut them lengthwise into strips. I'm not fanatical about even sizings here, as a matter of fact, I enjoy the contrasts provided in texture and crunch by mixing up thickness and length.

When the oil is hot enough, we went for the chips first.

Get them into the oil, without splashing yourself. Notice that I'm using a pot that is nearly twice as big as the volume of oil. This makes things a bit safer, and when mixing things like boiling oil and twelve year olds, safer is always the way to go. They will float up and start to brown, when they are a uniform, light golden brown transfer to a paper towel lined bowl, salt lightly with kosher salt and go to town. These are much less greasy, far more crisp than commercially made chips. These are food, they taste like food. (note: I just did a quick search of my archives for a salsa bandera recipe and couldn't find one, I promise to post that very soon.)

Now it's time for the potatoes. This is a two step process. The first dunking in oil is done until the outside faces of the fries begin to skin up, and the edges are turning lightly brown. Remove from the oil and drain throroughly.

Then, after they have drained and cooled put them back into the fry to crisp and brown. This is the secret to making your own french fries. The first frying will cook them through completely, the second frying will bring them to that crispy outside texture which contains the wonderful potato stuff inside.

Again, dust lightly with kosher salt and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. (Being a traditional kid, the nephew went for ketchup, while I went with a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of ketchup and tapatio). If you want the classic Pommes Frite Parisien you can toss them with sea salt, parsley flakes and crumbled bleu cheese.

Summer's here folks! It's a wonderful time to be in the kitchen with kids.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it about this weather that makes us want to fry food?

Those look delicious. I only discovered a couple of years ago the double fry on the french fried potatoes. Ever since then, I've had many requests for homemade fries.

No I need to buy some corn tortillas. And I'm hoping you find the salsa recipe. I'm looking for a good one.

4:43 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it's a basic salsa cruda.

raw, diced tomatoes
minced onion
minced garlic
minced jalapenos or serrano chiles
lemon, or lime juice

down here, they call it salsa bandera because it has the colors of the mexican flag.

4:57 PM  
Blogger seventh sister said...

I guess that we should be careful where we get the tomatoes unless we can grow our own. I get mine at the farmer's market along with jsut abour everything else on your list.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! We're going to have lots of tomatoes I think and salsa is a great way to use them.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Jesse Wendel said...

K. Hungry now.

Very very hungry.

What I need is a creek-cooled root beer to go along with that.

Hobble down to the bank, pull out the bottle or even a two or three, back up to the porch, pour the root beer into a nice big mug with home made nilla ice cream.

Sit back and watch the birds in the creek all afternoon and hang out.

Or if it's as late as it now, watch the stars.

I don't care either way, long as there is the home made ice cream, root beer to float it in, the creek I can hear below, and the sky above.

What the hell is Arizona and good friends for?

12:30 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

wow,, that looks great.

my little mai is coming tomorrow to stay overnight but i doubt we will do much in the kitchen this time.a 4 year old ans a 15 week old puppy will leave little time. so we are going to have some lessons on how to treat a new puppy. she's never had one. they have 2 cats and kittens are definetly a whole different experience.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

So, MB, what do you do with the used oil/fat once it's cooled down? (That's an awful lot of glop to give to the dog.....)

10:03 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

to reserve the oil, strain through a fine sieve and a cheesecloth. it's the little bits of stuff that cause it to go rancid. a good straining, an airtight container (old spaghetti sauce bottles are perfect) and store away from heat and light and the oil should be just fine for several days and more uses. once it begins to cloud and darken it goes on the compost heap.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...


Any luck in finding out about baked fries or chips?

11:21 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i haven't tried this one out but it looks fairly straightforward

baked potato chips

2:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you, MB. I'll give it a go. Rosemary is one of the few herbs that survives my garden neglect.

If I make it to the beach, some pinched beach rosemary might be good.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous tata said...

Can we call you Uncle Starchy?

9:20 AM  

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