Parmesan Pesto Fries
I often fall into the camp that deliberates the sides as much as the main meal. In fact a “side” done well can serve perfectly as the main event and has done so for me on many an occasion. Take the humble spud – roasted, mashed, boiled, baked, fried and steamed – a meal is not a meal without a touch of tatie on the side. It translates into patatas bravas, fritters, samosas, hashes, caldo verde, colcannon, bubble n squeak and the ever-humble hot chip. I’ve taken the typical soak up the beer, feed the seagulls special here and spun it with parmesan, sea salt and pesto so if you squint at them, you could almost imagine you were eating your greens. I’ve left the quantities for the pesto fairly large, if you are anything like me you’ll tend to cover your fry like a sock with the stuff.
The key to the perfect chip is in the soak. By soaking the fries in water, you draw out the starch, so when you cook them you make them crunchy on the outside and light and potatoey on the inside. Also make sure you serve them up hot and fast – these are definitely the sort of pomme fritte that you blow on, eat and still burn the roof of your mouth for fear of missing out.
900g baking potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼ inch thick sticks or cut into shoestring using a julienne peeler
vegetable oil for frying
1 bunch basil leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 large clove garlic, peeled, chopped
50g pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
zest of 1 lemon, plus a little squeeze of juice
1/3 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
Add the potato to a large bowl. Cover with water and refrigerate for 8 hours, even better if you do it overnight.
On the day of serving make the pesto by combining the basil and coriander leaves, garlic and a pinch of sea salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, coarsely crush. Add pine nuts, parmesan and lemon zest and pound to a rough paste, stir through oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until ready to serve. Alternatively you can blitz these in a food processor – just don’t over work it, you want a rough pesto.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 160C. Line a baking tray with paper towels. Rinse the potatoes and pat thoroughly dry. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until they are almost tender and look slightly translucent (usually about 3 minutes). Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Increase the oil temperature to 190C and fry the potatoes for another 3 minutes or until golden and crisp. Transfer to the paper towels to drain and season generously with salt. Sprinkle the fries with the shredded Parmesan and dollops of pesto and serve immediately.