Thursday, February 21, 2013

Duck Fat Fries smothered in Beef, Onion, Beer Gravy - a Meat and Potatoes Creative Cooking Crew Challenge


Gift giving can fall into two camps.  I mean, there are definitely more kinds, but to keep it simple, lets just go with two.  There are those totally selfless gifts.  Those that benefit only the recipient.  The kind that are chosen after thoughtful, careful consideration of the likes and dislikes of the person receiving the gift.  Like the DVDs of The Secret Life of the American Teenager that Seth gave me one year.  I had been (rightfully) too embarrassed to tell him that I watch the show (It is seriously so so bad, but I cannot stop watching), but somehow this secret came out.  And a few weeks later, there they were, two seasons of it on DVD for me to enjoy and relish in all their soap opera-y glory, with the caveat that Seth would never partake in Secret Life viewing.

Then there are those that conveniently benefit both the recipient and the giver.  Valentine's Day this year was, perhaps, not my finest moment, as both the gift I gave Seth and the the gift I gave Max both fall in this camp.  Like these towels - I gave Seth two.  Guess who gets to use one of them.  What a coincidence!  Max received Finding Nemo.  Because I adore it.

And speaking of things I adore, I love making oven fries.  Tossing some veggies or potatoes with oil, salt, and pepper and popping them in the oven - super quick and super easy.  I should point out, I am not anti-deep frying.  But it is hard to fit it in as a "side dish."  If I'm doing it, I need it to be the main event.  But Seth, his face becomes ever so slightly crestfallen when it is announced that the fries I am serving aren't "real fries."

So when the Creative Cooking Crew's challenge of meat and potatoes (round-up can be found here) was revealed this month, I figured I would give Seth a culinary gift of sorts- french fries.  Deep-fried fries - all fried in duck fat.  None of this oven business.  But really, I just wanted to play around with some duck fat.  And by culinary gift, I mean, I told Seth that he would be doing the actual frying (in fairness, this is something he enjoys).  I'm such a giver, what can I say...



We topped these french fries with a beefy gravy filled with onions and beer.  And topped with a dollop of sour cream and a touch of truffle oil.

It figures that all my "presents" would come back to bite me - Seth's Valentine's Day gift to me?  A mandoline to make the french fries.


Ingredients
For the meaty gravy:
1/2 - 3/4 pound beef stew meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, sliced
1 large thyme sprig
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground bayleaf
3 garlic cloves
8 ounces of a nice beer (we actually made this twice, once with Chimay Blue and once with a Black Butte Porter)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the fries:
11.5 ounce container duck fat
1 quart canola oil
4 smallish russet potatoes, julienned into 6 mm strips
1 cup flour
 reserved seasoning mix
sprinkling of fleur de sel
drizzle of truffle oil
2 tablespoons parsley, for serving
dollop of sour cream, for serving

Instructions
For the meaty gravy:
Grind juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, and coriander together, and then mix in a 1/4 teaspoon of ground bay leaves.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven or heavy skillet, heat olive oil over high heat and brown the beef.  Make sure to get the sides nice and brown, then turn the heat to low to finish cooking the beef until just barely pink.  Turn the heat off, and remove the beef to a cutting board.  Let the beef rest for a few minutes, then shred or slice into small pieces.  Try to reserve any of the beef juice that runs out while shredding.

In the dutch oven or skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the reserved seasoning mix, and the leaves from a large sprig of thyme. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, then reduce to low, cooking for another 15 minutes to get those onions soft and silky.  Add in the garlic and cook for a minute, until fragrant.  Add the beef and any of its reserved juices back into the pan.  Add the beer, letting it cook down just a bit.  Add in the brown sugar and vinegar, and let it cook on low for a few minutes.

For the fries:
Peel potatoes, keeping them in a large pot of cold water after peeling.  Julienne each one into 6 mm strips, keeping them in the cold water again until frying.

We used the double frying method for the fries to get them as crispy as possible.  Pour the canola oil in one saucepan, and the duck fat in another.  We found it best to keep the canola oil at 250 degrees and the duck fat at 300 degrees.  When the oil was at a higher temperature, it would cook too much in the canola and not enough in the duck fat, not picking up that delicious, savory taste of the duck.

We also tried out frying the potatoes without dredging them in flour but they were soggier and less crispy that way.  So, mix flour with some water to make it a consistency just thicker than heavy cream (probably about 1/2 cup water), and dredge a handful of the julienned potatoes in the mixture before tossing them in the canola oil.  Fry for just a minute, until the potato stops looking opaque.  Use a skimmer to take the fries out of the canola oil and place them in the duck fat, frying until golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes.  Set on paper towel and repeat until all the potatoes are cooked.

Toss fries with a bit of truffle oil, and sprinkle with seasoning mix and fleur de sel.  Top the fries with gravy, parsley, and a dollop of sour cream.

30 comments:

  1. Ohmygawddddd these look soooo good! Why don't I have this right now?!

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  2. So when can I come over and have some of these fries? I'll bring the dessert! :D

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    1. anytime! i will totally trade this for one of your desserts!

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  3. wow!! these are some seriously fancy fries, I love it! Are juniper berries hard to find?

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    Replies
    1. i found the juniper berries at whole foods awhile ago, and ever since i'm just trying to figure out ways to use them :)

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  4. OH MY GOD. These look so sinfully amazing. Fried in duck fat? I think I love you Jenn.

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  5. Fun story and delicious once-in-a-while and only-in-moderation dish. :)

    I've been wanting to cook something in beer and just never think of it when I get in the kitchen. The flavors in your beef are really kicking! And, of course, the fries too.

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  6. I can only imagine how heavenly these must taste. I've had duck-fat french fries once...and they were so very good. Thank you for sharing sweet friend. I'm nursing a bit of a cold, and this post warmed me right up. I hope you are having a happy end to your week!

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  7. Oh.My.Gosh. Duck fat fries???? Incredible!! Lucky Seth...and lucky you, too!

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  8. Fries made with duck fat...that sounds just fascinating! The whole dish looks heavenly!

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  9. Umm, yum. You can give these babies to me as a gift any day.

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  10. OMG duck fat?! you are a bad ass.

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  11. Totally with Molly on this one .. super badassness in progress!!! ;) Yummmmm!

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  12. That looks utterly fabulous my friend, soooo good :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  13. Such a funny post! I follow the second type of gifts as well :)

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  14. Wow! This looks delicious! I need to make this for my husband :) Who doesn’t like duck fat, beer and fries?

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  15. The fries look so crispy and delicious! I would definitely go for seconds and thirds :)

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  16. This is so far the most tempting of all the creative dishes I've looked at. French fries are my weakness. This post reminds of two gifts my husband gave me. Roku and Apple TV? How are those gifts for me? :) Each was a separate year and I looked at him and said, "what is this?" Next year, I'll get him a Le Creuset Pot, right?

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  17. Holy moly. These fries put all other meat-covered fries to shame! Truly a really original and delicious creation!

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  18. I need these in my mouth ASAP! They look wonderful.

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  19. Duck fat for fries is awesome, the whole dish is. Addcurds ans it is a gourmet poutine. Seriously looks awesome.

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  20. omg, dug fat fries! this looks absolutely wonderful :)

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  21. I know quite a few men who would die for this.
    Great dish for the challenge!
    LL

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  22. I would be hyped on the mandoline :P Loving this riff on poutine - that beer/beef/onion gravy sounds delicious!

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  23. Very interesting techniques you have shared... and delicious. I love things in duck fat. I just fried chicken in it and loved it. I look forward to trying it.

    PS I got a great meat clever for Valentines one year and was happy as could be. The vacuum cleaner was a deal breaker.

    Great challenge.

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  24. Oh my, this looks fabulous buddy! Thank you for sharing the recipe ~ great photos (as always!) & Blessings xoxo

    Luxury home accessories

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