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Fries are one of those things that almost always taste better at a restaurant than they do at home. I'm sure the industrial fryer is part of the reason, but the real secret is that the restaurants who make great fries cook those potato slices twice. Yes it takes a little longer, but the results are outstanding. The procedure is similar to what we used making kettle chips at home. I've managed to make great fries this way twice, without any assistance from Robin, so I'm pretty sure anyone can do it.

Homemade Handcut French Fries

French Fry Ingredients
2 large Russet potatoes
24oz Canola, peanut, or California rice oil
Salt and Pepper


Equipment
Cast iron dutch oven
Thermometer

Procedure
1) Heat oil in cast iron pan, with thermometer in oil to make sure temperature reaches 305 degrees.

2) As oil heats, clean your potatoes and cut them into long strips of approximately the same size. Place sliced potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown.

3) Remove potato slices from water and pat dry on paper towels, place enough slices in oil to have one layer covering the surface of the oil.

4) Allow slices to blanch, cooking until they turn from a shiny color to a more matte appearance. This is typically about the time the temperature starts rising in the oil again. Remove from oil with tongs and place in a pan lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

5) After blanching all potato slices, increase the temperature of the oil to between 350-375 degrees.

6) Repeat process of layering potato slices in the oil, this time cooking them until they turn a golden color. Cook longer for fries that are more crisp.

7) Remove from oil and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil, season with your favorite salt while still hot. Garnish your fries with herbs, garlic, or any other flavor that suits your palate.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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Mashed potatoes are my personal holiday kryptonite. It could be because my grandma started me on mashing potatoes before I could see over the stove, or maybe it's just because they are nearly perfect. I could miss most of the rest of the meal and simply fill up on a heaping plate of smashed Yukon gold with turkey gravy pouring over the sides of a mashed potato wall. This is an excellent variation on that theme, taking true sweet potatoes, combining them with some Yukon gold spuds, and adding a little parsnip for flavor. I wouldn't trade plain old mashed potatoes for anything, but these are a worthy rival.

Sweet Potato Mashed potato recipe


3 medium sweet potatoes, yellow
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
2 parsnips
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl parsley, chopped
1/4 c chicken stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Stuffing is one of those things no holiday feast should be without. It's a perfect savory accompaniment for turkey and cranberry sauce. I call this Robin's foolproof stuffing because it's easy to make and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like it. And of course, it's Robin's because she's the brains of the food operation at our house. Drying the bread can be done ahead of time so that you're not trying to do everything at the last minute. If you don't eat pork, you can round out the turkey theme with a turkey breakfast sausage instead of pork.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

Ingredients

1 loaf sliced bread of choice, buttermilk white is good
1/2 lb turkey or pork breakfast sausage, bulk
Giblets reserved from turkey
4 Tbl butter
1 onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 core of celery, with leaves, small slice
1/4 c white wine
3 c chicken stock, maybe more to moisten
3-4 sprigs sage, leaves chopped
2-3 sprigs thyme
1/2 tsp celery seed
Salt and pepper

Growing up, green bean casserole consisted entirely of canned goods. Canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, and canned Durkee French fried onions were the primary ingredients. I still have a fondness for that version of this holiday favorite, but rich flavors of making it yourself from fresh ingredients give a whole new dimension to this old favorite. Since I don't eat dairy, we left the heavy cream out of the version we made at our house, but it's admittedly better tasting if you leave it in.

Green Bean Casserole recipe

Green Bean Casserole Ingredients

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 lb porcini mushrooms, or favorite variety, sliced
4 shallots, 1 minced, 3 sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 sprigs thyme
2 Tbl butter
1 Tbl flour
2 c veal stock, or beef stock (low sodium if not homemade)
1/4 c port, ruby or tawny
1/4 c heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 Tbl parsley, chopped

Crispy Shallots for Topping

1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp onion powder
2 c canola or high heat oil

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Side Dishes: Monthly Archives