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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feta Fries


Try my Feta Fries for a fast Greek food fix! Click to Enlarge Image

Here in Canada, we have rather limited choices when it comes to Canadian cuisine per se. Instead, Canadians are quite well exposed to the whole gamut of ethnic foods that arrived -and continue to arrive- with the polyglot immigrant populations who call Canada Home (which is everybody but the Native Peoples). In fact, about the only Canadian dish I can think of is Poutine and that is originally from Quebec, the Francophone part of the country.

To be honest, I was never very fond of Poutine. Perhaps it is the gravy, or the tasteless cheese curds, or the sloppiness of the dish which turned me off, I really do not know what it is, but I have never liked it very much. However, as I was helping my sister and brother-in-law to move the other day, I found myself out in rural Ontario and needing a quick fix for my road hunger. Sure enough, a sign advertising “Fresh Cut Fries – Poutine” appeared by the side of the road many miles from anywhere and I stopped to re-fuel. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have tried to like Poutine and so I resolved to give the stuff another go and ordered a small size serving. I ate it, but I did not particularly like it, I simply consumed it to fill the void in my stomach. Let me assure you that I am not in any hurry to have Poutine again any time soon!

This Feta Fries recipe is my Greek food answer to Quebecois Poutine. The beauty of this particular recipe lies in its simplicity. I have heard of people adding gravy or mayonnaise or sour cream, or yogurt in similar recipes but take my word for it; they are missing the point entirely. There are only five required ingredients for this dish: potatoes, Greek feta cheese, dried Greek oregano, cooking oil, and some fresh lemon juice and that is all!

Nonetheless, there are a couple of points that need to be considered in order to get the most out of this recipe:

First off, Greeks do most of their frying in olive oil; this includes the frying of potatoes. Chips done in Greek olive oil are nothing like fries cooked in vegetable oils. Admittedly, the cost of Greek olive oil may be prohibitive in this respect, but if you can use it exclusively you will taste the difference. In point of fact, I often use an admixture of Greek olive oil and peanut oil when frying potatoes at home. I find peanut oil the most amenable to this task as it does not affect the flavour which the olive oil imparts to the fries. With respect to quantities, I would go with a 50/50 olive oil to peanut oil ratio.

Secondly, your choice of potatoes is also an important factor in the outcome of this dish. In Canada, I use fresh (never frozen!) Russet potatoes for frying as they are particularly well-suited for the task. Also, I use a Fry Cutter to ensure uniformity in my chips. [Note: for some background information on the history of the potato in Greece please check my Patatopita recipe. For another Greek potato recipe see my Lemon Potatoes recipe.]

Finally, you must use a good quality Greek feta cheese (which is made from ewe’s milk and can contain up to 30% goat’s milk). In contradistinction to the tasteless cow’s milk cheese curds the Quebecois use in their Poutine, Greek feta cheese adds a fresh salty flavour which mingles incredibly well with the lemon juice and oregano sprinkled overtop of the fries.

All in all, I think it is safe for me to say that although my Feta Fries are essentially a Greek fast food, they are a much healthier and more flavourful alternative to more common convenience foodstuffs. Trust me... they will be the most popular thing on the table! Total time to prepare is 15 – 20 minutes.


Ingredients:

3 large potatoes, peeled and thick sliced into uniform fingers
1 cup (250 ml.) Greek olive oil [Note: admixture of 50/50 olive oil to peanut oil is fine.]
1 cup (250 ml.) Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon (15 ml.) dried Greek oregano
½ a lemon


Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan to 180° C (350° F).
  2. Add the fresh cut fries to pan and cook until done. Make sure to turn the fries a few times with a spatula, and to slightly swirl the pan occasionally to allow the fries to settle in order to ensure an even and thorough cooking. Stay on top of them as you do not want to overcook them. Crispy edges are fine but thoroughly saturated and darkened crisps are not.
  3. When cooked, remove fries from oil and set aside to drain on some paper towel for a couple minutes.
  4. If you have not already done so, crumble the feta cheese and turn on your oven broiler to the High setting.
  5. Place drained fries in an oven-proof serving plate (or platter) and sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese overtop of the fries to cover.
  6. Place the platter under the broiler for a few minutes until the feta cheese begins to melt slightly. (In restaurants this is known as the “salamander effect” which gets its name from the salamander broiler that is usually positioned above the oven.)
  7. Remove platter from oven (using oven mitts!) and place it on a heat-resistant surface or cooling rack for serving.
  8. Sprinkle the dried Greek oregano along with the juice of ½ a lemon on top of the feta fries and serve hot.

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit)


Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand
http://www.greekgourmand.com
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


26 comments:

Peter M said...

Sam, I never realized the resemblance of feta fries and poutine...both a french fry and cheese plate!

I do enjoy a good poutine...homemade gracy, well fried chip and gooey cheese curds but feta fries send me to food manna.

Here's the dynamic I get from these fries...crisp outside, fluffy inner spud, just soft feta and pungent oregano and sea salt to round it out. This could be an entree for me.

Sue said...

Feta with chips....Never would I have thought of that combination Sam.
Pouting I've never tasted so I am not sure if I would like it or not.
The extra virgin olive oil from Italy is only available here....but that is my cooking medium of choice.

Paula said...

I clicked on your photo to enlarge it and my oh my! those fries look terrific! I hope all your visitors enlarge it as well so they can see all the cripsy goodness on those fries. My son would go wild over this. Great, great recipe!

Peter G said...

To be honest I'm not familiar with poutine. It doesn't sound like an interesting "dipping sauce" for the fries. However, your feta fries look amazing and your description is spot on! (And the photo does look great in a bigger size). Good advice also on frying the "chips". I use a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and sunflower oil.

cj said...

Sam, these look delicious! Any excuse to have feta cheese for me!

Have you ever tried grapeseed oil? My husband and I have tried mixing it up to 50% with olive for frying. It has a very high smoke point and a mild flavor, slightly nutty, which does not overpower the olive oil but seems to possibly enhance it a bit.

deb said...

when I worked At "The Greek Village Inn" here in Sacramento. I had these all the time. I loved them. Homemade, handcut fries with the most amazing imported Feta Cheese. There's nothing like it.
Good Stuff!

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

What a gorgeous idea, they look so good.

ΕΛΕΝΑ said...

Sam, so simple but so tasty!!!
The combination of fries potatoes and feta cheese is super!!!!
As you said, that's the beauty of the simplicity:))

erin said...

I am a sucker for fries, and this sounds too wonderful. Now I have a good excuse to make some!! Thanks

Laurie Constantino said...

I'm with you on poutine - I had it one time and thought it was - well - disgusting. Inedible. I've never understood the attraction. But your feta fries sound terrific - great fusion food!

Ivy said...

Sam I never thought of adding feta on top of potatoes as usually all our meals are accompanied by feta. I do add oregano on top and next time shall try this. I enlarged your photo and they look terrific. About peanut oil, in Cyprus we used to cook only with peanut oil. Olive oil in Cyprus is not so refined as the Greek one, so we restrict it only to salads and some people now cook with Greek olive oil.

Gloria said...

Sam I love this dish, look sotasty!
Love feta! Gloria

farida said...

Sam, this is such an easy meal to whip up. I am sure it is equally delicious. I love feta cheese a lot so this could make a perfect treat for my palate:)

~Madeline~ said...

These look fantastic! I wouldn't have thought of that. Thanks for such a great idea!

Natasha said...

I love feta fries! They're a staple comfort food!!

Nate-n-Annie said...

Feta and fries - yum.

I also love fries with greek yogurt and a little chopped kalamata olives mixed in.

Lore said...

I also eat my fries with feta and it's the best thing ever! You made me hungry again :)

crunchbot said...

those look delicious! what a great idea! thanks!

Hillary said...

I love Greek potatoes. Thanks for the fabulous quick idea.

the Aspirant Abecedarian said...

Sam these look amazing and so simple! I am not a fan of the traditional American "cheese fries" as they seem to be more like carnival food in my eyes. However...these...wow! I love feta. What a comfort food. I will definitely be making these soon! Bravo!

Brett said...

Never count out a proper poutine- I had some a few weeks ago in an Old Montreal steakhouse, and lt me tell you, they were bliss, with a rich, pork-based gravy and a few different kinds of cheese (I detected the traditional curds and I think Gruyere)

That said, I'm dying to give your feta fries a try! I might just do the olive/peanut oil mixture.

Kevin said...

Those fries sound good.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Such a beauty! I'm craving one right now!

ju said...

Delicious recipes, interesting comment - a really talented writer and super blog.

Thanks so much.

Will be back often.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Peter, your dynamic is spot on, that is exactly how they are (just no sea salt required as the feta is salty enough). As for the resemblance with Poutine, it just came to me nay years ago as a gastronomic epiphany. :)

Sue, why don't you give it a try and let me know how you liked it. As for Greek olive oil not being available to you, Italian will do as long as its high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Paula, yes I agree, your son will go wild over these, but I bet you will too! Enjoy them in Good Health!

Peter, Poutine is poured overtop of the fries as opposed to being a dipping sauce, but either way, I still don't like it though Peter M. does. So it's totally a personal taste thing.

cj, no I have not tried grapeseed oil though I should give it a shot. Have you tried peanut oil? It's quite good as its smoke point is high and I cannot detect any flavour from it in the cooked product at all.

deb, then you know what I'm talking 'bout!!! Great!

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess, oh you so right, they are simply fantastic and almost guilt-free. ;)

ΕΛΕΝΑ, yes, oftentimes in life it is the simplest things which are best and this dish proves it. Enjoy!

Erin, I know you will enjoy these, call me psychic... :p

Laurie, seems like great minds think alike, at least where Poutine is concerned! ;) Nice to have you back!

Ivy, I didn't know they cooked with peanut oil on Cyprus, thank you for that piece of info. Please give these a try, I am sure you and the family will like them.

Gloria, yes feta is a very versatile and great tasting cheese and can be used in all sorts of ways so I can totally sympathize with your love for it, I love it too. :-)

Farida, you are right, it is a quick, super easy and tasty dish, one I am sure will please your palate. If it doesn't, you know where to send your complaint! :)

Madeline, you are welcome and enjoy!

Natasha, you and my wife both! We have them a couple times a month on average and we always look forward to them.

Nate-n-Annie, yes there are variations like you mention, but sometimes the simple things in life are the most enjoyable and my wife and I (and our goddaughter) prefer it this way.

Lore, sorry 'bout that.. won't do it again! :p

crunchbot, you are welcome, enjoy!

Hillary, good to hear! Quick and tasty are the operative words when it comes to this recipe.

the Aspirant Abecedarian, I agree completely and I think the phrase "carnival food" is an apt characterization for Poutine too. Glad to hear you liked this and I hope you enjoy them!

Brett, now that does sound good, but I guess my problem with Poutine might have something to do with the fact that I have never really liked gravy (any gravy) on my fries. But by all means, give the olive and peanut oil mix a shot, I am sure you will like it.

Kevin, they most certainly are! Try it out for yourself... you won't be sorry.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js, you could be eating a serving within 20 minutes... Quick, print off my recipe and head for the kitchen! :)

ju, thank you for your kind words and I look forward to hearing from you again! thanks for visiting. :)

Jessie said...

Oh my goodness, these look wonderful! Thanks so much for posting this. I know what I'm making this weekend...

+Jessie
a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse