I won’t go so far as to say that I hate Valentine’s Day, but if I see one more red food coloring-infused heart-shaped concoction on the Internet I swear I will turn off my computer forever. Okay, until Tuesday. That said, how about a fun little savory snack to offset the sugar high brought on by looking at all those red velvet cupcakes? Maybe an unholy cross between a potato chip and a french fry, so fun to look at you almost don’t want to eat them? I did say almost; once we actually started, we realized that four measly devil fries each could never sate us. Even with grilled cheese.
Oh, you’ve never heard of a devil fry? The idea comes from the tornado fry as featured on food network, except I’m not using whole baking potatoes, nor do I have the Coolest Device Ever Except For a Taffy Pulling Machine*. I decided to call them devil fries because of the Tasmanian devil, which really does look like it’s spinning when it’s angry. Yes, like the Looney Tunes character. Also, devils’ lives are sad and hard, so I thought we could have solidarity through food or some such.
Oil for frying
Seasoning of your choice (salt, chile powder, pepper, garlic powder, whatever.)
First, we need some fingerling potatoes. I am a complete sucker for purple potatoes, and can only get them in a bag with red and yellow ones, so that’s what I have. You’re not going to trust this advice, but I’m giving it anyway: do not use the longest, skinniest potatoes. You want the little fat stunted ones, because they take up more room once they’re cut and you want to be able to fully submerge them in oil when you fry them.
Run a skewer through each potato lengthwise, pushing about 1/2 an inch out the other side. Then the hard part. You want a really sharp knife for this, and the first one or two will come out all mangled up because you won’t have got the hang of it yet. No worries, they’re still tasty when they’re ugly. All you need to do is hold the knife in one hand and spin the potato with the other so that you get a nice long spiral cut all the way from top to bottom. Oh, I cut off the very tops and bottoms of the potatoes, just ’cause, but you don’t have to.
Just cut all the way down to the skewer. These ceramic knives are great, because they’re so sharp. They make cutting almost too easy. I almost cut off my fingertip last year, but that was with a bread knife, so not really relevant except as an excuse to say “sharp things are sharp so be careful!” Here’s another view of cutting the spirals.
You may notice that the skewer isn’t even close to centrally placed in this potato, which isn’t a problem at all except asthetically. It cooked up nice. When you’re done cutting, pull the spirals gently apart so they look a bit springy. This is why you want to use the squat little potatoes, not the long ones. My long one took up the whole skewer and couldn’t be fried. Lesson learned. Set aside your potato spirals.
Start heating your oil in a medium sized pot, leaving a few inches of empty space for sizzling and popping to occur. You want the oil about 350°F to 375°F. Still no thermometer for me, so I basically decide it’s hot enough when a pinch of flour sizzles on contact with the oil. Submerge about six potatoes at a time in the oil, frying 4-6 minutes until golden and crispedy.
You don’t even need a slotted spoon to remove them, just pull ’em out and lay them on a bed of paper towels or parchment paper, and season while still hot.
We had ours with grilled cheese. Take your favorite bread, some cheese, and butter. Melt butter in a sandwich-sized frying pan and slice some cheese for the sandwich.
There’s our good friend the Irish whiskey cheddar on whole wheat. Fry on one side over medium heat while you butter the other side.
I always, always forget to bring butter to room temperature before doing this. It doen’t matter, really. Flip after a couple of minutes to cook the other side, then serve with devil fries.
I had ketchup and salt. Mr. B. had last week’s homemade mustard and Hatch chile powder. It was quick, easy comfort food that looks fun enough for a party but is still definitely too laid back for a holiday. I think I need to make a whole bunch and serve them all up in jam jars, because they look like happy little salted balloons. Take that, Valentine’s Day!
*I really want a taffy pulling machine. I don’t care that there is nowhere to put it in this tiny apartment.