Monday, October 1, 2007

Why we should annex Canada

At least the French speaking parts. This is my take on Poutine. It's what happens when you keep planning a trip to Montreal, but the trip keeps getting pushed back. This cost a lot less than a flight out there, but the cheese curds were hard to come by, and it's hard to find someone to enjoy these with in C-town.

The curds came from my trip to Northern Michigan. They were vacuum packed, and, sadly, were not squeaky by the time I got to them. Still, they tasted and melted great. Good thing too, because if they squeaked I might never make it to Montreal.

I'm pretty sure the potatoes are Carolas. They came from the farmer's market. I was looking for Russets, but they weren't available yet. These worked great.

- Chicken stock (See Risotto post, below. This was the frozen leftover.)
- Flour
- Fat or oil (I used peanut oil.)
- Salt and pepper
- I thawed frozen stock in a sauce pan while making the roux
- For the roux I mixed equal parts oil and and flour in a hot cast iron skillet
- I whisked the roux into the stock until the gravy was just thinner than I wanted it to be (It thickens up a bunch. If it winds up too thick just add water.)
- Season to taste

- Potatoes, cut into fries
- Fat for cooking (I used duck fat, of course.)
- Salt
- Heat fat (I used a wok to minimize the amount of fat needed.)
- Peel potatoes and put in a bowl of water once peeled
- Once all potatoes are peeled, slice them into fries one potato at a time, putting the cut potatoes back into the water as you are going along
- Once all the potatoes are cut, drain the water from the bowl they are in and give them a quick dry with paper towels
- Now line a plate with paper towels (This is a paper towel intensive meal.)
- Now fry the potatoes, in several batches if necessary as to not overcrowd the wok (As for the heat of the fat, I don't use a thermometer. If the potatoes sizzle, then it's good.)
- This is the first frying--once the potatoes are pretty limp, but not colored, remove them to the paper towel lined plate
- Repeat with next batch if necessary
- Once all potatoes are fried the first time, raise the heat and repeat, keeping the fries in the fat until they are slightly colored and sound kind of hollow
- Remove batches from the second fry to new paper towels, add salt and pat to remove clinging fat (Make sure to drain the fries well when they're coming out of the fat--I use a spider, which is available for not much money at any decent Asian grocery store. Here's a link to one at my favorite online wok store, The Wok Shop, in San Francisco:

Cheese Curds:
- I just broke up the curds into somewhat even sized pieces--they were more irregularly shaped before they began melting (Shredded mozzarella or cheddar would have been good too.)

To put it together I put down a handful of fries, some curds, some more fries, some more curds, and ladled over the gravy. It's worth all the pots and pans and cutting and frying.

New Jersey tangent:
I loved this dish. But, keep in mind that I grew up in New Jersey, where I ate Jersey Shore cheese fries at the The WindMill on Ocean Avenue in West End every summer. Not sure if it's still there, but if it is you can't miss it--it's a giant windmill. There's not much better than getting a giant crisp-skinned hot dog, some cheese fries, and sitting on the upstairs balcony of that WindMill. Max's in Long Branch may have had slightly better hot dogs, but after eating one right before going nightfishing for Bluefish in rough seas I never went back. Then, if you need dessert, nothing beats the Lighthouse, in Long Branch, for Italian ices-- Really, it's one of the best things ever, even if you normally don't like Italian ices.

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