On a friday, some fries and a beer might sound tempting. For a fancy dress party? The salty, fatty flavors of the fried and refreshing, sparkling feeling of the drink are still attractive traits, but we need a luxury upgrade to match those pearls and stilettoes!
Triple-cooked sweet-potato fries with truffle mayo paired with champagne tend to get my guests into a party mood. The fun of using such an un-fancy staple as finger-lickin’ (literally) fries with the classiest drink of them all is a great way to get people talking. Using duck-fat or other drippings for frying adds a great richness of flavor, triple-cooking gives the best possible results (crispy surface and soft center) and the truffle mayo is a fancy “bridge” to the mushroomy character in a real, lees-aged champagne.
Triple-cooked perfect sweet-potato fries:
Ca 1/3 lb per person of sweet potatoes (or mix half/half with a regular, firm potato), cut into fries of your preferred thickness. I leave peels on and don’t make them perfectly even.
Approximately 2 lbs of duck fat (or 1 lb of duck fat and fill up with safflower or canola oil) Rinse the fries under cold water for a minute. This removes starch.
Boil the fries in salted water until soft but not falling apart. Drain, pat dry. Spread in single layer on a tray and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Heat duck fat to 250 F (use thermometer and deep casserole or a deep frier. If you use casserole, keep lid on while heating and close while frying, and the local fire department on speed dial!) and fry the fries in batches, 5 minutes each. Drain and spread in single layer on tray, returning to freezer.
Right before you are ready to serve, heat duck fat to 320 F (careful, now this is hot!) and fry the fries until golden. Drain and toss with flake salt and serve while hot. I like sandwich paper cones in a glass - gives an approximately serving for one!
(Lazy hostess version: make wedges, toss in olive oil and salt and bake in oven until golden...) The author takes no responsibility if you, for whatever reason, burn down the neighbourhood while frying. It will, however, be quite the memorable party...
(Note: All ingredients to keep room temperature. Check online for tips if your mayo curdles)
Two egg yolks
Pinch salt, pinch white pepper
Whip together, place bowl on a wet towel (for traction) and drop by drop (to start, then slowly) add in 1/4 cup truffle oil while whisking quickly. The sauce should thicken. Continue whisking and slowly pour in 3/4 cups light virgin olive oil.
Stir in 1 tbsp white wine vinegar. For additional truffle flavor, depending on your budget, use fresh or frozen truffle shavings, truffle salt or truffle paste to taste. I use white truffle paste sourced from Alba in Piemonte on wine trips to the region.
(Lazy hostess version: Buy good quality mayo, mix with some sour cream for freshness, salt and pepper, add truffle, truffle oil or truffle salt to taste)
Champagne of choice:
Any real champagne (from Champagne, France and nowhere else!!!) or really good quality sparkler can work with this. I prefer a champagne with very high acidity to cut through the fat and salt of the dish, with a bit of mushroomy lees character to match the truffle.
Two excellent suggestions of prestige champagnes with searing acidity, toasted notes, minerality and tons of class:
(Cheap hostess version: try a good Crémant de Bourgogne, like Louis Buillot, for a budget sparkling with many of the desirable “real champagne” traits.)