Take everything you love about a French fry — that crisp, golden-brown crust enveloping an oh-so-fluffy interior — and flatten it.
In fact, go ahead and smash it.
Lately, I've been frying up smashed potatoes, and they're everything I could want in a French fry and more. Each bite is like a tiny taste of culinary nirvana: crunchy yet delicate, full of flavor. Not to mention smashed fries are the perfect width for dipping into your favorite sauce.
And they're so simple to make. Boil a batch of small new potatoes, then carefully smash them with a fork. Pan-fry them in a shallow layer of oil just until the outer layer is richly golden, then gently lift them out, careful to remove any leftover crispy bits from the oil as well. (Aren't the crispy little bits at the bottom always the best part?)
You'll probably be tempted to eat them straight out of the frying oil, but spare your fingers and tastebuds the burn. Give the fries a minute or two to cool on a rack, enough time to sprinkle them with a little salt as you admire their rustic beauty. Then dig in.
In case you were wondering, this is not a healthful dish. So go ahead and embrace your creation. Gild the lily.
Start with a cool ranch dipping sauce. Rich and creamy, it's garlicky but tamed somewhat by a little vinegar and spice, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs help to round out the harmony.
Or turn your snack into something a little more substantial: poutine. The unoffical comfort food of Canada, fries are topped with cheese curds and gravy in a delicious mess. Cheese curds, which are popular in the Midwest, are mild and firm yet a little more salty than cheese, they have a distinctive "squeak" when you bite into them. But if you can't find them, substitute grated cheese — cheddar or mozzarella will work fine. Then ladle over warm gravy to complete the dish.
If you're going to gild the lily, might as well do it right.