Since the great holiday of 4/20 just recently happened and I live in Denver (but did not partake) – I decided to create the ultimate munchies recipe: French fries topped with goat cheese, pancetta, basil and a balsamic reduction. You can also make these for drunk munchies but I suggest you have a sober friend help you out. I made them for just regular old get-home-from-school-munchies. No matter what your reason, you’re going to fall in love with this recipe. Even though it contains fried food, the freshness of the basil will somehow trick you into thinking it might possibly be healthy. One suggestion I have is to freeze the potatoes ahead of time so they are ready when you want to cook. You should even freeze extra so you can make French fries all the time because, who doesn’t love French fries?
2 large russet potatoes
½ cup balsamic vinegar
10 large basil leaves
4 oz thick diced pancetta
4 oz goat cheese
A few hours in advance, you want to prepare the potatoes. I did long slices and then sliced those slices. Yes, these are very confusing directions. Just see the pictures. After they are sliced into French fry shape, put them in the freezer until they are frozen all the way through. This helps them get a crunchy exterior during the frying process.
When you’re ready to actually make the recipe, start by preparing the balsamic reduction. Pour the half-cup of balsamic vinegar into a small pot and turn the stove to medium-high heat. Once it starts to boil, you can reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering. Let this go for about 10 minutes (possibly less) until it reduces to half and gets somewhat thick. Once it is finished, set it aside for it to cool and thicken up even more.
At this point, you should turn on your deep fryer or put about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep pot and let that get to 375. While it is warming up, you can prepare some of the other ingredients.
In a pan, fry the pancetta on medium-high heat until it turns golden brown and gets crunchy. Set the cooked pancetta aside until assembly time.
I am such a loser.
Then, julienne the basil leaves. We’ve talked about this before, ‘julienne’ simply means cut them into thin long slices. I stack the leaves up and slice horizontally – it works like a charm.
To check if the oil is ready, break off a little crumb from a French fry and drop it in. If it sizzles a lot, the oil is hot enough. If it doesn’t sizzle, it’s a no-go. A thermometer is also helpful and probably necessary. Get ready, grab a handful of French fries, and throw those suckers into the pot! Let them cook for about 6 ½ minutes. It might look like they are getting really brown, but they need to get crispy. And trust me, I’ve tried and failed this so many times that there’s no need for you to do the same. Be patient, wait 6 ½ minutes, and you will be pleased.
When the time is up, let the fries drain for a minute or so over the oil and then you place them on a paper towel. Do not directly put them on a paper towel the second they are out of the oil because they are scorching hot and you might start a kitchen fire. Once they are patted down a bit, they can go on a fresh plate.
Now its time to assemble! First, crumble the goat cheese on top. Next, sprinkle on the crunchy bits of pancetta. Then, drizzle the balsamic reduction on top of that. I used a spoon and since it was so thick, it slowly dripped off to make the most perfect looking drizzle you’ve ever seen. Finally, add the basil and you’re ready to munch on a French fry masterpiece.
Beer Pairing: West Coast IPA by Green Flash Brewing
In reality, for this recipe you can just drink whatever you have in your fridge, but we recommend an IPA. We chose West Coast IPA because it is hop-tastic and the flavors blended beautifully with the goat cheese and balsamic. You’d think that all these strong flavors together might end up battling it out in your mouth but instead, they all toned each other down and made for a perfect pairing. The brew is somewhat citrusy and bitter as well which adds to the freshness factor brought in by the basil. We’d say that overall, West Coast IPA is a perfect summer IPA.