Fried potatoes have been temptying us since the 17th Century when the Belgians first experimented cooking them in oil. At the time, deep-frying, imported by Crusaders from the Middle East, was the only absolutely safe way to cook, especially in “flat countries” as Belgium and Holland were called, as water was a bed for all kinds of diseases.
Incidentally, Paris had a good laugh when some time ago a misinformed gentleman proposed than French Fries should be re-named “Freedom Fries” on the White House menus. Sorry, mate, but they are Belgian, not French!
Now, eveyone knows that boiled potatoes are healthy, if somewhat bland in taste, whereas fried potatoes are tasty but hideously high in unwanted calories.
There is a simple method half way which will enable you to enjoy your favourite snack/main dish with a lighter heart (and midriff) and at the same time allow you to serve a savoury dish to your ravenous friends or family! (But don’t overeat them!)
(for 2 to 4, depending whether it is an accompaniment or full dish):
-4 large potatoes
-1 large echalotte/shallot (if unavailable, half a red onion is great!), finely chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-Bacon (vegan and vegetarians, please skip this keeping in mind you will have to add a little salt)-1 large rasher cut in small pieces (half a cm square or half the size of your little finger nail, cut short!)
-Parmesan/Parmiggiano Cheese (vegans, please skip this or use alternative), freshly grated, 3 large tablespoons.
-Salt (for the potatoes boiling water, otherwise as little as possible, as bacon and cheese will contain enough!)
-Pepper, nutmeg. Foodies who like their food Indian-style may add a little powdered curry mix and chili pepper.
-Olive oil: 2 large tablespoons
-Boil potatoes in plenty of salted water. If you do not add salt to the water, the potatoes will end up very bland in taste.
-Once the potates are boiled at about 80%, plunge them into cold water. This little trick will prevent them from breaking up later.
-When potatoes are cold enough, peel and cut them in wedges (the size is up to you).
-In deep enough frying pan dry-fry (no oil added) the chopped bacon until it becomes a nice crisp and dark. Put aside on a small dish. For non-vegan/vegetarians, do not wipe the pan, or you will miss a lot of taste!
-Pour two large tablespoons of olive oil in the same frying pan. That is enough, and the oil will be “sucked in” by the potatoes with the result that the potatoes will not be “greasy”. Use olive oil, extra virgin, as this is best, not only for taste, but for health (the vitamin C contained in olive oil do not disappear even cooked for a long time).
-When potatoes have almost reached the wanted colour, drop in shallots, garlic, fried bacon, pepper, nutmeg (and salt if you absolutely must use some!). Toss-fry until shallots have turned transparent.
-Pour the lot into a serving dish and sprinkle parmesan over it.
Enjoy at once!
Sometimes, simple is best!