Friday, April 27, 2012

Giving in to your cravings

Believe it or not, this was more my craving than the Happy Husband's. It was a combo craving for a wedge salad (to be explained later) by the Happy Husband and crispy boardwalk style fries for me. The steak ended up really being the accompaniment to our uncontrollable cravings.

We will start with my craving, the fries, because, as expected it's Ladies First in this Happy Home. It was one of those days where I just NEEDED what I wanted. And what I wanted was a taste of the beach... Bring on the boardwalk fries, only problem being, we are about 2 hours away from the boardwalk :( Never fear though, I had potatoes, frying oil and salt, the three basic ingredients to the perfect fry. The first step with your fries of perfection is to cut the fries. Some people have the fancy pants fry cutters that you see at state fair stands... I do not. I do, however, have a mandoline with a fry cutting setting which evenly cuts the fries. You can do it old school too with a knife, just be sure to evenly cut the fries so that they cook consistently.

The next step is to turn your sliced potatoes in to golden brown amazingness, also known as french fries for those of you who aren't as obsessed as I am. The key, in my opinon, the secret to perfectly cooked fries is the blanch. This basically means that you will cook them twice. Contrary to popular belief, this does not result in greasy fries, it helps to properly cook the inside and then add a nice crisp to the outside. I keep the heat on medium-high on my electric stove (I have NO idea what temperature I am frying at). I also do the first fry for an undetermined amount of time, generally its between 2 and 3 minutes. The second cooking session lasts until the fry is crispy and just dark enough. If you have ever had a decent boardwalk fry, you will know what color this is.

A major must do when doing home made fries is to put the fries on a cooling rack. Do not just set them on a paper towel or news paper!! They WILL get soggy on the bottom and nobody likes soggy fries. You will also want to salt your fries immediately after they come out of the second dip in the oil. This will help the salt to stick to the fries.

After the first fry, Blanched
After the second fry, Salted
Ok, so the most important part of the meal, my craving, has been taken care of. Now, onto the second most important part, the Happy Husband's craving. I have to admit that I am a HUGE fan of a wedge salad as well. There are some restaurants out there offering variations on wedge salads. Let's get something straight, there is NO SUCH THING as a variation on a wedge salad. I think they should be calling them wedge-style salads. A wedge salad has 4 ingredients; iceberg lettuce (this is the only kind that will do), real bacon, diced tomatoes and blue cheese dressing. If you really wanted, you could put some fresh cracked pepper on the wedge but if you have quality dressing you won't need it. The first thing you need to do for this glorious salad is crisp up the bacon (pig bacon people!). You want it to be crispy enough to easily crumble but not burnt. The other option, what I do, is to chop it up before you cook it. This makes it easier to brown it and just stir it around the pan. After it's good and crispy, drain the fat. You can save the bacon fat for frying eggs and making home fries on the weekend if your Happy Partner is into that kind of thing.

The next step is to dice up the tomatoes. You can do this while the bacon is browning. In the winter/spring, I prefer to use grape or campari tomatoes. They are probably the most flavorful that you will find out of season. In the summer and fall I use any type of tomato from my back yard garden or I buy them from someone else's back yard garden on the way home from work. I have the benefit of living near Amish country and having lots of road side stands to stop by on my way home from work. Now for the actual wedge part. Cut your iceberg head in half and then in half again... Magic! You have a wedge. Put the wedge on the plate, pour on some of your favorite blue cheese dressing, layer on your diced tomatoes and bacon. You now have a classic wedge salad which is one of the most refreshing combos you will ever eat.

Finally, we have our 'lesser' craving accompaniment, perfectly seared strip steak. There's really nothing new to speak of here as far as grilling thick steaks is concerned. Make sure you bring it to room temp before hitting it with the heat. For perfect grill marks, leave the meat alone. You shouldn't flip a steak more than once during the cooking process. If you are OCD about the criss cross marks, (yes, this is a Happy Husband issue) just turn the meat 90 degrees half way through each cooking time. If you ask me, the diagonal marks on these steaks are just fine.

Remember, giving in to your cravings once in a while is perfectly normal. Everything in moderation, including moderation :)

1 comment:

  1. That looks like a fantastic meal! Great advice on the fries. Wait until you have to feed the 5000, you'll want one of those "fancy pants fry cutters". LOL
    Cutting the bacon before frying...great tip.