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Frites: Celebrating the Fried Potato and More

Frites (865x1280)“Frites are something of a culinary icon, bringing joy to people of all generations and backgrounds for the duration of a meal…It was while enjoying a plate of frites that the idea for this book came to me four years ago,” writes author, Anne de la Forest, a French journalist and food lover at heart. Her book, Frites, is less of a cookbook and more of a compilation of research and guidelines for creating the perfect fried veggie or fruit.

Why ‘frite’ instead of ‘fry’?

De la Forest uses the term ‘frites’ to refer to fried potatoes and other fried vegetables and fruits in the recipes contained in this book because there are so many different names given to these foods around the world.

Illustrating the cerebral nature of this book’s design is a two-page essay introducing the chemistry behind the creation of a perfect frite written by Herve, the co-author of Molecular Gastronomy. In understandable terms, he explains the cooking method required to achieve frite perfection as it relates to the composition of the potato. He provides interesting ‘food for thought’ as the book unfolds.

Anne de la Forest compiles 6 pages of frite history complete with footnotes and references to more in-depth writings. The background of the French fry is followed by a very thorough explanation of the recommended types of potatoes, vegetables that are best for frying, and oils to use in each application.

The technical guide section expounds on methods for cleaning, peeling, and cutting the potatoes, and it offers suggestions for the best equipment to insure success in each step. The author provides tips on how to choose a fryer, and there are excellent photographs and sketches on each page to illustrate her points.

Who doesn't love a perfectly cooked French fry?

Who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked French fry?

The recipes are divided into sections:
-Traditional Frites
-Trendy Frites
-Creative Frites
-Sweet Frites
-Sauces

Personal experience with Frites

In our evening of experimental frying, my family gave a big thumb’s up to de la Forest’s American French Fry recipe. Many crucial steps are included to achieve the perfect fry: cutting the russet into uniform sticks, soaking the fries in cold water for 30 minutes, drying them thoroughly, frying for 7 minutes, draining and cooling for 30 minutes, and then frying again at a lower temperature. A liberal sprinkling of sea salt and a list of suggested sauce pairings finishesthe project.

The homemade ketchup recipes made for a great accompaniment. Despite the list of 12 ingredients, it was easy to make. I did need to Google a recipe for “mixed spice” as it called for one teaspoon of it, and there was no explanation anywhere. Apparently it is commonly found in European spice shelves and was easy to create once I knew the mixture.

We also prepared the Sweet Potato and Cumin Frites recipe. Although they were quite tasty, they were not as crisp as the russets and therefore not as appealing.

From the Creative Frites section, I made Turnip frites and Parsnip frites. The turnip sticks were seasoned and baked in the oven at 350, and none of us thought they were very remarkable. The parsnip frites were fried, but the taste wasn’t terribly appealing. Of course, I have to concede that the American French Fries were so amazing that anything else I prepared that evening paled in comparison.

Who should have Frites

This book is an excellent aide if you are on a quest to create and experience the perfect frite. It will expand your base of knowledge in all the crucial elements necessary to achieve perfection in the preparation of French fries. Then, the argument surrounding who really invented the fried potato won’t matter: your friends and family will give you all the credit. – by Lisa George, RFT Cookbook Editor and Ranch Chef, Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

 



Lisa George

Lisa George and her husband, Randy, are co-owners and head chefs at the Latigo Guest Ranch in central Colorado. Their two adult children join them in the kitchen during the busy summers to prepare wonderful meals for their ranch guests and staff. Although Latigo has some winter business for cross country skiing, Lisa uses the non-summer months to try new recipes. She gathers many of the popular ranch recipes into a cookbook each summer, and guests often enjoy replicating their favorites when they get home. Other tried and true recipes find their way onto the ranch website in the recipe of the week section: www.latigotrails.com