Yesterday I got laid off. I started this job in grad school and it’s been my safety net for a long time. When I worked at the library and layoffs were looming, I knew that if the worst happened, I always had this job. And when I started doing taxonomy work, this job was the steady income I needed to make freelancing a little less scary.
Losing your safety net is a pretty awful feeling. As much as I’ve contemplated quitting this job over the past few months (and oh, I thought of it often!), I could never really bring myself to do it. But maybe having a safety net was holding me back and keeping me from doing the things that I want to be doing. Like
watching Real Housewives marathons all day in my pajamas while quietly weeping recipe development and blogging. And making Garlicky Oven Fries with Harissa Ketchup!
Typically I make oven fries the lazy way–I cut a potato into wedges, toss them with oil, and throw them on a baking sheet. Easy peasy. The wedges never get quite as crispy as they would if they were deep-fried, but that’s kind of what you expect with oven fries. They’re not crispy! They’re a little bit limp! But they’re healthier for you and that’s the trade-off you have to make. After hearing that Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe for crispy oven fries, I thought I’d give it a try. And guess what? They were crispy! Definitely crispier than my usual method.
I did make a few changes to their recipe–I used garlic-infused oil and I used a much less of it than the original recipe called for. If you’re cheap like I am, you probably avoid recipes with garlic oil. I can never justify buying a big bottle of oil when I know it will probably go rancid before I get around to using it all! And while you can make your own infused oils, that takes some time. Here’s how you can cheat and speed up the process:
Use one large garlic clove for each tablespoon of oil. So, for this recipe, you’d use two garlic cloves and two tablespoons of oil. Mince the garlic cloves with a garlic press; if you don’t have a garlic press, smash the cloves with the back of a knife. But the garlic press is best! Put the garlic in oil and let it sit for as long as you can, then remove the garlic with a fork. And now you have garlic-infused oil!
Of course, you can’t have fries without ketchup. While I’ve made my own ketchups from scratch in the past, this one is a little bit easier–store-bought ketchup + harissa. Harissa is a spicy Tunisian chili sauce. You can make it yourself if you can’t find it at the store or, failing that, simply spike your ketchup with a pinch of red pepper flakes.Print
Oven fries that are actually crispy? Yes, it is possible! I used the Cook’s Illustrated method for making baked fries and infused garlic into the oil. Pairing the fries with Harissa Ketchup makes this everyday side dish something special.
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