It was a great food extravaganza this Valentine's weekend.
On Saturday I was relieved of (most) kitchen duties when Brigitte made her Moroccan feast: kuftas in pitas with tabouleh, hummous, trinah and chile-tomato dip, with crème brulée to finish. (I'll get the kufta recipe from Brigitte and post it here later). Pictionary with Arlette and Alex ensued!
The following evening I made my signature "Nick's Homemade Spicy Potato Chips" (recipe to follow) which we enjoyed with some delicious filet mignon.
From top left, clockwise: Tabouleh, (white wine!) chile-tomato, trinah
Kufta in pita . . . yum!
Arlette brulées the crème! It was a gas.
Nick's spicy homemade potato chips
Nick's Spicy Homemade Potato Chips
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 container duck fat (about 2 cups)
2-3 cups peanut oil
You are going to need a mandoline. Apart from being essential to making potato chips, this will prove useful in many tasks in the kitchen, including making fingertip chips.
Adjust blade to about 1.5 mm cutting width -- too thick and the chips will be soggy, too thin and they'll be too crispy -- and slice the two potatoes, holding them at approximately 45 degrees so that the chips will mostly be medium diameter as opposed to lengthwise, where they would be too long, or vertically, where they would be too small.
Dissolve about three tablespoons of sugar in some hot water, add to a bowl, add ice water and soak the chips for about half an hour.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and duck fat on medium heat. You want about 1/2 - 3/4" depth.
When the chips have soaked for 30 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. With layers of paper towels, dry all the chips.
When a drop of water causes the oil to sizzle vigorously, add the potatoes in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Stir frequently to separate the chips. Cook each batch for about four minutes, then remove with a spider and set aside in a bowl. There is no need to remove stray oil from them at the moment.
When all the potatoes are done, reduce the oil temperature to minimum and let the potatoes come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes are cool, increase the oil to medium, and when the water-drop test tells you it's ready, repeat the previous step with batches of chips. Stir frequently and do not leave unattended. When the edges of the chips start to become golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, remove with the spider to a basket lined with paper towels. Cover each batch with a paper towel to keep warm/soak up excess oil.
When all the batches are done -- the chips should be just on the verge of crispy, with some still bendable -- remove all but the bottom layer of paper towels and sprinkle liberally with cayenne, cumin and salt. Serve with mayonnaise or your favorite dip.