I am both very lucky and very spoiled for spending nineteen years of my life living in the great green state of Vermont. VT is, beyond any doubt, a foodie state: farmer’s markets are everywhere, restaurants like The Skinny Pancake, A Single Pebble, and Bluebird Tavern frequently make headlines; eateries toting “all-green” menus like Magnolia Bistro are starting to appear, and New England Culinary Institute keeps turning out more fantastic chefs who stay in the state! Oh, and I can’t forget the bakeries…
…and all restaurants linked above are in the city of Burlington alone! Since BTown is where I grew up, I know its food-scene the best, but there are just as many – if not more – absolutely amazing places outside the city. My grandmother in particular always requests an out-of-town restaurant for her birthday. It was at one of these restaurants that I tried an appetizer that inspired this entry. It wasn’t anything fancy: a small basket of french fries with an assortment of mayo-dips, but oooh was it good! The fries were skinny and golden little sticks with just a pinch of salt and the dips ranged from spicy, to tangy, to sweet. I don’t remember exactly what the dips contained, but when I decided to make my own homemade fries (baked!) the other day, I wanted to recreate a few of the mayo-flavors I had experienced at that restaurant.
Baked Fries with Basil and Garlic-Paprika Mayo (inspired by Black Sheep Bistro)
For the Fries…
2 large russet potatoes, washed (about ½ lb.)
¼ C EVOO
2-3 T salt (I used ground sea salt for added crunch)
For the Dips…
1 large handful basil leaves, washed (about 1 Cup)
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ t paprika
2/3 C mayo (I prefer canola-based mayonnaise)
- Preheat your oven to 450°F.
- Slice the potatoes into generous wedges about 2″ long and ½” thick – they will shrink a bit in the oven. Lay them out evenly on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and use a pastry brush or spoon to coat the top side with EVOO. You don’t want them to be soaked, but well covered. Sprinkle half the salt over the wedges and then flip them so the oiled and salted sides are now down.
- I did not need to oil again here. The oil had dripped down onto my bakery sheet enough so that the fries were well coated when flipped. If you do need to add more oil now, though, feel free. Just remember: baking is supposed to be healthier than frying. 😉 Sprinkle the remaining salt over the fries and place in the oven. Bake until deep golden brown and slightly crispy (mine took about 15 minutes).
- While the fries are baking, prepare the dips: first make the Basil dip by putting 1/3 Cup mayo into a food processor. Chop up your basil leaves a bit if you’re like me and have a mini-machine, or simply dump the whole leaves on top of the mayo. Process on Low for a few bursts until the leaves are completely minced and fully incorporated into the mayo. Put basil dip aside in a small bowl and clean the processor.
- To make the garlic dip, put the minced garlic, paprika, and remaining mayo in the food processor and process until smooth. Transfer garlic dip to another small bowl.
- When fries are done, slide them onto a paper towel-lined plate until they are cool enough to handle. I did not have to blot mine, but if you used extra EVOO (or are just more health-conscious) you may wish to.
- Serve fries as hot as possible without burning, with dollops of both dips. Dips can be saved for up to a week in the fridge and are excellent on sandwiches and wraps.
So while you will have to like mayonnaise to enjoy these dips, I am convinced anyone will love these fries no matter what. They’ve got that perfect crunchy-yet-soft texture with the right amount of browning that puts frozen fries to shame. And ya know what? They really aren’t at all difficult to make. The extra 5 minutes you take to slice these up will be more than made up for in the flavor you get from NOT opening a bag of freezer-burned, overly-processed junk…and they’re not fried so you can convince yourself that they’ll count as your vegetable for the day. 🙂
As for the dips, I – for one – really enjoyed them. They did turn out rather thick compared to the dips I loved at the fancy restaurant, but I had decided against diluting (with a bit of milk) since I wanted to use most of it for sandwiches anyway. If you’re going to serve these dips exclusively with fries or chips, you’ll probably want to thin them a bit. My dad wasn’t a fan of the basil flavor (his loss, in my opinion) and said the garlic one was “way too garlic-y” for his taste. Next time, I’d like to try sauteing the garlic first in order to brown it a bit and mellow the flavor. I think that’s what real chefs do to make garlic mayo anyway – am I right?
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥