What I had for dinner:

Oven Fries

(the Deluxe Model)

[ Previous ] 18 Jul 1994 21:33:00 -0400 [   Next   ]

This had a rather convoluted ontogeny. (Don't worry, I'm a scientist; I can do this at home!)

It all started at Balducci's on Sunday. I discovered chestnut flour, something I had never noticed before. Chestnuts are a perennial favorite of mine, and I was aware of chestnuts made into flour in places like Corsica and Perigord, where it used to substitute for expensive wheat flour in peasant bread. Now of course chestnut flour is a luxury item. I decided to try to make dumplings, a sort of chestnut spaetzle.

It took me quite some wandering around to come up with something to go with that, but thinking geographically it was either mountain goats for Corsica, or barnyard fowl for Perigord. There was no goose, so I went for duck breast.

I had the basics, and yesterday was my attempt at chestnut dumplings. In short, it does not work. Don't even think of it. There may be hope for noodles, but not for the lumpy stuff.


So, for today there was a duck starting point. Duck or goose fat, besides their purported involvement in the "French Paradox", are wonderful to fry potatoes in. Still, trying to moderate things, I tried the oven method again. This time, the potatoes were cut narrower, in 3 mm strips. Washed and dried, they went into a plastic bag with 2 tbsp of melted duck fat (rendered yesterday from the skin over low heat in a covered pan). The well coated potatoes were wiped lightly with a paper towel, and spread on a greased cookie sheet (a disposable aluminum sheet can be reused many times). They were cooked for 15 min at 500 F, with occasional stirring or shaking.

1/4 duck breast (half a breast sliced horizontally) was cut in strips about 5 mm thick, and stir-fried with 1 tsp of the fat. 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce (homemade at Thanksgiving; that stuff never goes bad!) and 2 tbsp of tomato sauce were added, with a little Port to make a quick gravy. Salt and pepper, and voilà. Much more satisfying than the chestnut thingies.

Now I have 1 cup of chestnut flour left, so I will have to come up with something. Chestnut cookies?

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