Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deep-fried sweet potatoes (p. 302) and Additions to green beans (p. 251)

As I've said before, my father is extremely supportive of TJOTJOC, so when I went to his house for the night, he wanted us to cook a TJOC-heavy dinner. We looked through his cabinet, paged through TJOC, and decided to utilize his home-canned green beans and homegrown sweet potatoes (that were probably nearing the end of their life span).

I have a fear of the deep fryer. I've actually had a deep fryer for about 7 years and only took it out of the box for the first time a few weeks ago. I still haven't used it yet. Knowing this, dad thought it would be a perfect time to make Deep-fried sweet potatoes (p. 302) because he could help. Reading through the recipe again, I see we missed the first line about boiling the sweet potatoes for ten minutes (whoops! Didn't do that).

Dad cut the sweet potatoes in to strips using a mandoline. Apparently, he's cut himself before on the appliance because he decided to use it while wearing oven mitts. I thought it was both smart and hilarious.

Some of the delicious looking strips:

One of the benefits of the mandoline is that all the strips are exactly the same width, so they should cook at about the same pace. Four large sweet potatoes made a LOT of strips:

They were popped in to a deep fryer and deep fried until golden brown:

These were amazing. I love fries, I love sweet potato fries, and these stood up to the best. They had the intrinsic sweetness of the sweet potato and were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I gorged myself on them since I suspected they wouldn't keep well. I also salted the heck out of them.

I honestly don't think that cooking them first is necessary, although On Food and Cooking by Andrew Smith says that the best fries are fried at two temperatures, so maybe the precooking is a way to get around that. Has anyone made this recipe as written? I would like to know the difference.

We were both attracted to Additions to green beans (p. 251) and decided to make two of the different styles. The first one we made combined wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a drop of my father's super-hot-don't-eat-if-you-value-your-tongue pepper powder:

It didn't seem like enough for a pound of green beans, so we doubled the recipe.

We also mixed sauteed mushrooms, sour cream, and parsley:

And added each to a pound of green beans:

Well, for one thing, I will tell you the amount of vinegar mixture that TJOC actually calls for is undoubtedly correct. The green beans were so vinegary they were almost pickled (although Dad and I heartily enjoyed them anyway). The sour cream green beans were delicious and would be absolutely perfect for a potluck (I don't know why I always say that things would be perfect for potlucks, I never go to potlucks, so how would I know? More, it would be perfect for my vision of a potluck). Mushrooms, sour cream, and green beans is a delicious combination. These additions work well if you have a garden full of green beans and are getting really sick of them--try adding something new to them.

Random facts:
  • We eat the seeds of many legumes, the green seeds of a few (including lima beans, fava beans, soybeans), and the pods of only the green bean, the long bean, and the pea (On Food and Cooking, p. 335).
  • The breeding of green beans is probably fairly recent since they have to be eaten almost immediately and weren't as useful as dried beans (OFaC, p. 335)
  • The "string" in green beans was bred out in the late 19th century by Calvin Keeney, only heirloom varieties tend to have it today (OFaC, p. 336 and Wikipedia). I find this odd since I've had green beans with strings plenty of times in my life--were those all heirloom varieties?
  • True "yams" are rarely seen in the US. Most of what Americans call "yams" are really sweet potatoes (OFaC, p. 306).

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