This week I wanted to do a fun “on the grill” menu in anticipation of the warmer weather soon to come. Several items on this menu are on sale and the complete menu can be prepared without breaking the bank. So, what can make a great hamburger even better? World-class french fries, of course!
The history of french fries is a bit unclear, but almost certainly these wonderful creations were first cooked in Europe, more specifically, in France and Belgium. Recipes for fried potatoes in French cookbooks date to Menon’s Les soupers de la cour (1755). Some think that fried potatoes were being served in Belgium as early as 1680! Regardless of where they were invented, it is almost certain that they became popular in America after the first World War. The American soldiers in France discovered the coveted treasure and when they came home after the war, it is only natural that their appetite for the fried potato followed. I credit the Belgium chefs with first creating the “two step” process which is critical for cooking the perfect french fry. Enough history, let’s get cooking!
In This Menu:
- Mississippi Burger with French Fries & Cole Slaw
- Cucumber and Tomato Salad
- Peanut Butter & Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats
Mississippi Burger with French Fries & Cole Slaw
To make slaw:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon each Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 package Dole Cole Slaw mix
Place mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Add Dole slaw mix and toss until slaw mix is evenly coated with the dressing. Refrigerate.
For the burger:
- 1½ lb. ground round
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Place meat, salt, and pepper in small mixing bowl and gently incorporate the seasonings into the meat. Try not to over mix.* Divide meat by four and form patties. Grill, pan fry, or bake to desired doneness. Place burger on bottom bun. Top with a generous portion of the slaw then add top bun. Enjoy!
*For more tips on burgers, see my previous blog on the World’s Best Burger.
For the french fries:
- 3 russet potatoes
- 10 cups peanut oil
- Salt and pepper
Peel potatoes, placing them in cold water as you finish each one. Remove potatoes one at a time and cut potato vertically into ½ inch slice. Rotate potato and cut again to make ½ inch fries. Place fries in cold water until ready to cook. Place oil in a very large saucepan and heat oil to 325°. If you have an electric fryer, that would work even better. Check temperature with a thermometer, the temperature when cooking french fries is VERY important! While oil is heating remove fries from water and drain very well in colander. Shake colander for several minutes to remove any residual water from fries*. When oil is at the proper temperature, drop fries in oil and fry for about 7 minutes or until they are a very light brown. Do not crowd the pan. You may have to do the fries in a couple of batches. Set fries aside and leave out at room temperature until you are ready to eat. To finish fries, raise the temperature of the oil to 375° and drop fries in hot oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. Pour into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, toss and serve immediately. The two step process described above is how you get crispy fries. If you fry the potatoes all the way to the finish in one step, you fries will be limp and soggy. There is some very complicated science behind the process that I won?t pretend to understand. Just know that this process works and will give you an incredible fry!
*Before frying, I want to warn you that improper deep frying causes many house fires. Here are some things that will ensure you have a safe experience. First of all, make sure that your pan is large enough that the oil only fills the pan to about half way. Oil tends to bubble up when the fries are added and if the pan is too full, it will boil over onto the burner, potentially causing a fire. Next, make sure you remove as much water from the fries as possible. Water and hot oil do not mix very well and the more water, the more likelihood that the pan will boil over. If, for some reason you start a fire, DO NOT pour water or use a water based fire extinguisher. This will only spread the fire and make it worse. If the fire is not bad, the best thing to do is cover pan wearing gloves to smother fire. Obviously for any fire that even seems a bit out of control, it is always prudent to call the Fire Department. My point here is not to scare you from deep frying. I just want to make sure that your experience is a safe one. If you follow my rules outlined above, you should never have a problem!
Cucumber and Tomato Salad
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 Hot House tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup vinaigrette (your choice of brand)
Peel cucumber then cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon scrape seeds out of cucumber. Slice in ½ inch slices and place in a large bowl. Cut tomatoes into ½ inch thick wedges and add to bowl. Cut red onion in half lengthwise then into ½ inch slices; add to bowl. Add salt, pepper, and dressing to bowl and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate or serve.
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats
Seriously, who doesn’t like Rice Krispy treats? So what can make them better? Chocolate and peanut butter of course!
- 3 tablespoons butter
- One, 10 oz. package regular marshmallows
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 8 cups Rice Krispys
- 8 oz. semi sweet baking chocolate
Place Rice Krispys in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add marshmallows and peanut butter. When completely melted and smooth, pour over cereal and toss until evenly coated. With a buttered rubber spatula, press into an oiled pan, 13″x9″x2″.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave. If using microwave, melt in short bursts (no more than 15 seconds), removing and stirring between each heating. When chocolate is completely smooth and melted, pour onto Rice Krispy Treats and spread evenly over entire surface with a spatula. When chocolate is firm, cut into squares and serve.