Crazy Beautiful Day, Crazy Good Fries

28 October 2011 3 comments
Gorgeous October Afternoon, Capitol Square, Madison, Wisconsin
This is a tale told true.   This is the story....of a snack.
But not just any snack.

This is the story of the most amazing
Truffle Sweet Potato Fries.

My life was good.   Of course, it had its ups and downs, but I am basically happy, so all was well.

Then...a few years ago (I have told very few people about this) I was seduced.   I was in Vienna -- across the water for the first time -- and for dinner, I ordered a pumpkin truffle soup.  It was really my first time.   I had been, in a matter of speaking, a Truffle Virgin.  But, I barely remember the dinner conversation because every single bite was...ooooooooooooooohhhhhhh...............

Now, fast forward to now.   It is a spectacular late October day.   Although we have had significant chill, the air is sharp and amazing.   It seems as though every single vegetable is yellow or gold or orange, clearly delineating what we should be eating.

Of course, it is Autumn so we should be eating roots.   Burdock, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips, Onions, Sweet Potatoes....I could go on and on (and I usually do).   But it is time to marry the practical with the orgasmic (I certainly have done that as well).

It is time to have Truffle Sweet Potatoes.

Making your own "frittes/fries" is easier than you think, less trouble than you think and healthier than you know.  Yes, we use oil but it is fresh and high-quality...not rancid.   The taste is -- unlike anything you have tasted.

So....grab a couple of sweet potatoes and cut into long thick fries.  Fill a large bowl with ice water mixed with two pinches of salt.   Soak the potatoes for one hour.   This pulls a bit more of the starch out of them, helping to make them more digestible.   After one hour, drain on a towel, pat the top to dry all surfaces. 

Sweet Potato Wedges After Soaking!
 In the meantime, you will need a bottle of Safflower Oil ("high heat") which you can purchase from some large grocery stores ("healthy ones") as their store brand.  It is a pretty good price and you will be able to re-use the oil. (I always re-use the oil for frying vegetables until it changes color and then it is time to toss.  I don't save the oil from frying fish.)   Heat the oil, about 1" deep, in a cast-iron pan.    When the oil is good and hot, put about 8-10 wedges in and fry until soft or crispy, depending on your preference.   Remove from oil with a slotted or mesh spoon, pausing to let oil drip off into the pot before draining on paper toweling or newspaper. 
Here they are frying...
 Next comes the most exciting part.   Now we talk about why roots are important.  (fooled ya!)

According to my training in Traditional Asian Dietary Medicine (and basic common sense), roots sustain us.   It is, in the plant, the root which contains the stamina for that plant: its resources, its potential, its fuel.   When we eat roots, we become stronger.  It is especially important to begin eating roots in Autumn and to eat them through Winter.   They keep our fire stoked.

And yes, even THAT fire.

The little bit of oil used to fry these gives our body energy for large tasks.    This is a fantastic "go out and play football on Thanksgiving morning" snack or a "go out and cut and stack firewood" snack or a "shovel/snowblow the walkway" snack. is a perfect snack for a gorgeous day like today.

 Here is the secret ingredient:  I bet you are thinking it is Truffle Oil.   Well, yes....and no.   After the Sweet Potatoes have drained, you DO drizzle them with Truffle Oil (basically truffle-infused olive oil).  But then, (and here is the thrill.....), sprinkle with Umeboshi Vinegar.   You can get this pink vinegar in the Asian-food section of your store, or health-food store, or Asian market.  In addition to being just the right flavor for this dish, Ume Vinegar helps us to digest those already-healthy lipids in the Safflower Oil.   (and, by the way, we need lipids to make our brains work.  Capische?)

[Backstory: In my house, Benjamin is known as the SuperTaster.  He has an amazing set of tastebuds.   (which of course he inherited....).  If he doesn't cook at some point in his life it will be a terrible shame and a loss to mouths everywhere.]

At the end of this tale, there is no dragon, no knight, no princess (well,   There is only the snack.   The modest, golden, aromatic, Truffle (and Ume) Sweet Potato Fry. 

Benjamin put one of these babies into his mouth and said "oh...oh.....OH....!!!"
These are Crazy Good.
The bowl was full just three minutes ago....



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