By Kim Dannies
This time of year cooks should indulge something for its own sake, in spite of any detriments, and certainly for its benefits. I’m talking hot dogs here. Just like bikinis, convertibles and tonic drinks, hot dogs send me into a summer state of mind—carefree and a little bit naughty. This fun, hand-held food has so many condiment options that fries on the side seem almost superfluous. Almost. This summer I am entirely smitten with Herbed Farm Frites and seem to be serving them at every other meal. Farm Frites are my combination of seasoned parsnips and sweet potatoes that are tossed in olive oil and roasted to perfection.
For my hot dogs, I like to gently score Hebrew National beef dogs (extra-long) in 2-inch increments so that when they hit the grill, each ‘rib’ gets a nice charred blister on all sides. I spray sesame seed steak buns with olive oil and toast them to perfection, then cradle the hot dogs inside, loading up with ketchup, relish, yellow mustard, and sauerkraut. Slurping an icy gin & tonic, I’m in full summer mode.
Herbed Farm Frites
Peel 2-3 pounds of parsnips and 3 long, large sweet potatoes. With a sharp knife, slice each piece length-wise. Flip each piece on their flat face and slice repeatedly, until you have pieces that are 5-8 inches long and 1-1.5 inches wide.
You will end up with a pile of fries, but they shrink like crazy, so don’t worry about it. Toss the fries in olive oil. (do ahead 24 hours, store in zip-lock bag). Heat oven to 400°F. Place fries on cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. The parchment paper is essential, as the fries will crisp up beautifully but will not stick, like foil does.
Sprinkle your favorite seasoning combination on the fries. I often use garam masala, salt and pepper. The veggies can take a lot of seasoning, so be generous. Roast for 35-45 minutes. The sugars in the root vegetables will release and caramelize beautifully. No need to flip the fries. When ready to serve, gently pile fries into a large serving bowl, sprinkle generously with sea salt and top with 1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs such as chives, oregano and basil.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.