Last week I did a call out on Facebook for a man! It’s not what you think – I had so much home maintenance stuff that needed doing around the house but I didn’t know or want to know how to do it, so I asked if anyone wanted to help me out. My dishwasher was clogged, my air filtration needs cleaning, my floor needed to be fixed, etc. One of my guy friends, who’s been helping me out a lot since my return to Ottawa, came by and took all the dirty, smelly water out of dishwasher and got rid of the clog for me. I was so grateful I told him I would cook him dinner; anything he wanted, just name it. He wanted potato salad. Not just any potato salad but the kind his Dad used to make. Turns out it uses an old fashioned “cooked/boiled dressing” which I had never heard of before. I did a little research on the internet and it sounds like this was often used before the days of commercial mayonnaise. It has a very unique flavour and I thought I would share it with all of you.
For the main dish I wanted to try making beer battered fish for the first time. The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated and once again, it did not disappoint. It was so easy and super awesome! I couldn’t believe I made it and it was restaurant quality, if not better than some of the fish and chips I’ve had in restaurants here in town. Crazy crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with moist and tender fish.
Cook’s Illustrated Fish and Chips
- 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes), peeled, ends and sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch by 1/2-inch fries (see illustrations below)
- 3 quarts peanut oil (or canola oil), plus 1/4 additional cup
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, such as hake or haddock) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
- 1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold
1. Place cut fries in large microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with tip of paring knife, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing them with rubber spatula halfway through cooking time. Carefully pull back plastic wrap from side farthest from you and drain potatoes into large mesh strainer set over sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread potatoes onto kitchen towels and pat dry. Let rest until room temperature, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
2. While fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.
3. In heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Add fries to hot oil and increase heat to high. Fry, stirring with mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at corners, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.
4. Reduce heat to medium-high, add remaining quart of oil, and heat oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.
5. When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow oil to return to 375 degrees.
6. Add all fries back to oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with fish.
Old Fashioned Boiled Dressing
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
3 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp flour
Mix together sugar, flour, salt, & mustard. Heat vinegar & water in the top of a double boiler. Wisk in dry ingredients. Heat & stir until it starts to thicken
Beat egg yolks. Add small amount of heated mixture & beat. Repeat two or three times to temper the mixture. Return to double boiler & continue cooking until thickened. When cool, thin to desired consistency with sour milk or cream.
Store in an air-tight glass jar.