Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Day 20

If any of you come to one of my remaining appearances or attend the Public Safety Writers Convention in Las Vegas, don’t be shocked if my skin appears to have a light green cast. It isn’t your eyes; it’s my diet. I’ve eaten green chile in one form or another two or three times a day for three weeks, and I believe some of the plant’s pigmentation is beginning to build up in my skin. I may even have the fragrance of the potent capsicum. Looking and smelling peculiar is a small price to play for the enjoyment of tasting the best green vegetable.

Green chile and cheeses tamales, green chile stew, green chile breakfast burritos, green chile enchiladas, and yesterday, green chile and cheese French fries at the Hurricane Drive-In in Albuquerque. Yum. Recipe follows.

Cut fresh russet potatoes into French fries. Do not use frozen fries – the coating won’t adhere correctly. Do not wash the freshly-cut fries or process them in any way, e.g., do not pat them dry. Instead, dump them in a bowl of green chile powder with salt to taste. Roll them around with your hands until they are fully coated. Separate the individual fries with you fingers and drop them into a deep fryer or a deep pan with hot oil. Use a neutral oil such as corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, soybean, or grapeseed. Do not use olive oil as it imparts a taste. If you have duck fat and aren’t watching your diet, that is by far the tastiest alternative. Make sure the oil is at 375 degrees or a bit higher. Drop the fries into the hot oil and stand by. Use of a splatter screen is recommended. When the fries have turned crispy and golden, dip them out with a slotted spoon or sieve and place them on a plate covered with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle grated cheese over the fires so that it melts. Eat them as soon as they are cool enough to pick up, if you can wait that long. Any cheese will work, but the best choices are cheddar, Monterrey jack, cotilla, queso fresco, or even Swiss or Ementhaler. Sprinkling some chopped green chile over the whole mess would also be a good idea.

You will notice that there is very little oil on the paper towels after the fries are gone (which I predict will not be long). That is because properly fried foods do not absorb oil. The reason the oil must be at 375 degrees is because when the potatoes hit the hot oil, the moisture inside of them boils. The boiling moisture is expelled from the potatoes, so the flow of liquid is from potato to oil, not vice-versa.

Oh, I should add that we were at the Hurricane Drive-In doing research. It plays a part in The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, and I wanted to make sure I had my facts right. The fries were not the main reason for the visit. Yeah, right.

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