Wednesday, September 03, 2008

*fry, daddy.

And so he did.

This is the sort of labor I can really get behind on Labor Day. The other kinds seem inhuman and pedantic and possibly a cruel joke. But that does not mean it's easy, nosirree. It can be relatively ... terrifrying. HAR!

Certainly some people are braver than others. I find men will pretty much toss anything into anything else that's hot. But that could be my sexism at work. I'm sure Sarah Palin throws a moose on the hearth every chance she gets. (Loyal readers, I have been called "crancky" on this subject, and I plan to stay that way for some time. Please be patient until my ire subsides.)

But we were bolstered by the presence of the almighty Lacanche. The Dad and JBSH are home on that range. Plus it boasts a shiny new deep fryer, which means it has a lid and doesn't sit directly over an open flame, both great features for the safety- and grace-challenged.

We decided on four "courses": ravioli, polenta, French fries, and vegetable fritto misto (zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant)—that way we could try lots of different ways of frying.

The ravioli went into fat-free half & half (the recipe called for buttermilk, but you work with what you got) and Italian breadcrumbs. The big ones are gorgonzola and sun-dried tomato, but there were also little ones made with truffles and cream.

The polenta was left over from a dinner JBSH made, so it was chilled and ready to be cut into bite-size morsels. It goes into the oil as-is, no fanfare required.

The potatoes are blanched first then second-fried, to quickly cook them and make sure you get that brown, lip-smacking crust. First babies in the bathwater for a three-minute blanch:

Alas, the fryer decided that was all it could take for one night. The heat retreated, though the padre fumed along quite nicely. Ultimately, oil was transferred to a large pot so we could take a crack at it the old-fashioned way.

While we waited for the oil to come back up to temperature, I made mayo! First, two pretty pretty egg yolks.

Plus Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, fresh lemon juice, salt, and grapeseed and olive oils.

The recipe came from The Balthazar Cookbook. I strongly recommend buying it, preferably after procuring a discount card from the ever-beloved Books-A-Million (I'm the favorite!). It was tremendously easy—the recipe recommends streaming the oils into the processor as it's running, but the miniprocessor doesn't have a food chute. Adding it a bit at a time did the trick with absolutely no problem. All credit to JBSH's photo stylings (pictured above), but here is a utilitarian close-up:

I also whipped up the batter for the fritto misto

and put it in the refrigerator to chill.

I KNOW. That is the refrigerator. It's absolutely insane, and gorgeous, and has doors that open in the front and the back. All I'm saying is, if you plan to land at the Bonita, bring something for the wiping up of the drool.

The next step for the batter is beating egg whites, but it seemed frivolous to pull out the KitchenAid just to froth up two egg whites. So I decided to attempt it by hand.

Yeah, I was straight-up sweating by the time that was all said and done. But oh, the sense of accomplishment! Tiny embryonic sacs, all lathered up. Aren't you carnivores pleased with yourselves?

By that time, the oil was simmering ominously, so the potatoes took a dip.

Ack! Scariness. I mostly let the menfolk handle the first few batches. In part because I wanted them to walk point on this one, and in part because I am wicked short. I couldn't really see into the pot. Thankfully, JBSH moved it to the front eye so that I could have a better vantage point. It really was easy for me when they lived in the wheelchair-accessible loft. Things were much more my scale.

T-pop chopped the eggplant on the equally enviable Boos block

and they got a dunk into the batter. At that point, things started frying up at a rapid clip. The polenta was fair to middlin', although the faux parmesan cheese left over from the local pizza joint gave it an unpleasantly salty taste. The ravioli were the hit of the night, with the crunchy outside and gooey cheese.

But that's all before you take into account the hand-cut French fries, which are almost impossible to top. Seriously, I had to erase half of the pictures of them because this was the one that had the fewest blurred-out hands obscuring it. You'd think we'd never seen complex carbohydrates before. And the mayonnaise was transcendent. You will never eat crappy store-bought ketchup (what is that stuff?) again.

The vegetables were the best for me, because I got to do the frying and because the batter is fun to watch. It changes character the second it hits the oil and puffs up until it's crispy and golden-brown.

It made me want to make churros. Or funnel cakes. You know, skip the green stuff. It really just gets in the way, with all its "nutrition" and "antioxidants."

Being the fry-girl meant I was able to avoid eating too much of the offerings, so no worries about the ticker. I plan to live long enough to be able to make a mess large enough to cover an entire 18-foot island again.

It's a gift, people.


at: 1:27 PM said...

Ooof, I'm full again just reading about it. It was good........I think I alone ate four potatoes. Don't hate on my ketchup - nothing better that hot french fries and cold ketchup mmmmmmmmmmm


K. says:
at: 1:29 PM said...

lj: shudder. it's too sweet, man! why would someone perpetrate that horrible, horrible crime on the kind tomato? it never hurt anyone ...

at: 1:32 PM said...

NO it's tangy and delicious!

at: 1:44 PM said...

Must agree with LJ .... LOVED the fresh mayo, but don't go knocking my bottled ketchup! I can still hear my arteries hardening from this meal .... but it didn't slow me down!!! It was wonderful? Bring on more fried ravioli .....

K. says:
at: 1:45 PM said...

jeannieb205: i do hope that was supposed to be an exclamation point!

at: 6:30 PM said...

K! Balthazar is one of my favorite restaurants on Earth. If you're ever in NYC, their French Onion Soup is to die for! I drag J. there every time we're there.

Your pop's cooking facilities are amazing!

at: 10:53 PM said...

I always enjoy the postings about food-they are vicariously delicious. Tonight, however, was an exception. I can't read about food while watching the Republican convention. I was too busy being sick to my stomach!

K. says:
at: 3:32 PM said...

the other K: balthazar is insane. their moules frites are to DIE For.

and i know, right? t-fin is quite the culinary innovator. at least in theory.

anonymous: republicans and antacids. they're both bad for the blood pressure.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.