Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thyme Roasted Orange Fries

Tossed in olive oil and thyme

I have a secret. I love French fries. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, and wow, that felt good. I love French Fries!! I’ve always loved them, in secret, like I love chocolate cake. But somewhere along the way, I’ve ordered chocolate cake in a restaurant when a dessert was to be split, or made one at home with whole wheat pastry flour and tofu icing, just to make myself feel a bit better. But I’ve never ordered fries in a restaurant in recent or not-so-recent memory. They are just one of those off-limits foods for me. You know, those foods that you can’t imagine ordering to finish all by yourself because it’s just so… so… junkfoodlike. All I can see is a big pile of guilt-inducing greasy calories. Sigh, yes, Dotty the Dietitian has just dropped her apples and has tackled me again. Every time I dine out with Mark or a friend, I order a veggie hummus sandwich and then say with a radiant smile “Side salad, please, with dressing on the side.” And when the plate across from me arrives, piled high with those fragrant naughty fries, I reach over and say “Mmmm, do you mind?” Maybe the allure is in the taboo. A hot potatoey fry dipped in too-sweet ketchup. It’s just so good. I think they taste better taken from my partner’s sandwich platter anyhow.

A bouquet of thyme and rosemary is more fragrant than flowers

Two years ago, on a wild and wooly trip to San Francisco, my friend Eric (also classifiable as wild and wooly) insisted that we take a motorbike trip into the heart of the city to visit his absolutely favorite Belgian restaurant serving his absolutely favorite thing… French fries. As you may know, the Belgians take no prisoners when it comes to the art of frying the tuber. A Belgian fry is double-fried, once to crisp and cook the fry, a second time to recrisp the outside and add an additional layer of browned flavor. If I had gone to this place by myself, I inevitably would have ordered something a little more… boring. But Eric brings out the sense of adventure in me, so we ordered those fries and rolled our eyes at the potatoey creamy decadence of it all.

But still, I haven’t yet made peace with the French fry.

But do you know what I love, what I will always be happy to make when root veggies come in season? Orange fries. They’re so sweet, and dare I say, more enjoyable even than the traditional russet potato ones. These fries are so colorful and buttery, doused in olive oil and roasted with thyme until their browned sweetness makes them stick to your back teeth. These fries are long thin strips of organic yam and sweet carrot. Even the most diehard French fry fan will take a shine to these. They are fries for sure… but sweeter, and not deep fried, and use a healthier fat too. I think they are a bit more interesting as a contrast to your black bean burger or chicken sandwich, wouldn’t you say? But mind you, I do not mean these to be a substitute, they make no apologies for who they are.

And neither should I. I love French fries. And no, I still won’t keep my hands off your plate.

Browned and sweet

Thyme Roasted Orange Fries

serves 4

These fries work well with any herbs you have on hand. I like to use Nash's carrots from here in Washington state. They are the sweetest I've had. Look around at your farmer's market and sample around for your favorite orange veggies.

4-5 large sweet carrots

2 medium-sized oblong yams

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice each carrot and yam into long strips, about 1/4 - 1/2" thick. Not too skinny, or they will roast too quickly and burn at the tips. Place the pieces on two large baking sheets and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for each batch. Pull the leaves off of each thyme branch, and not worry if some of the tough branches get mixed in... they'll come out later on the pan. Leave some branches whole if you like, just leave enough small leaves to help coat the fries. Put 1/2 tablespoon of coarse salt on each tray and toss well. Spread the fries out as far apart as you can, so they roast faster and crisp well. Bake until brown and crispy. If they aren't brown enough, they won't taste as sweet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yum! I love sweet Potato fries! These sound great :) I remember you having a thing for fries (as well as your guilt over eating junk food) :)