Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Dirty fries with a touch of class

Best session food ever? It’s up there. My introduction to the world of dirty fries occurred just recently when the clan was off on our hols. An entire morning in a water park (slides, slides and more slides) resulted in the predictable coming to pass: We went from having harmless fun to being wild-eyed with starvation.

However, resolving not to eat the weans (I may or may not have threatened this at one point), we headed for the nearest eatery which, conveniently, lay right next door. Conveniently too, the eatery in question was also serving bottles of Goose IPA. Cannibalism averted, we perused the menu as the Goose was plucked and when I spotted the dirty fries, there was only one thing coming my way.

You may remember from last week’s entry that I’ve been eating like a man coming off a week in Lough Derg and I now have the physical evidence to prove as much. Ahem *(clears throat meaningfully)*… for the first time in nearly a decade, I’ve had to move a notch on my belt. It’s true! My name is Michael James Devlin and I’m a greedy pig.

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Mmmmm, pig.

Alas, my avarice apparently knows no bounds and if you’re looking for any physical evidence to prove as much, look no further than dirty fries. All is not lost however, as the hols are now sloping towards conclusion I have resolved to tighten up again when it comes to bold food and drink. No more dirty fries and IPA for MJD. No more left-over dirty fries for breakfast (that actually happened this morning and they were mighty!) and no more planning dinner when I haven’t yet digested breakfast. I might avoid gout yet.

A swan song to gluttony though, dirty fries were a great way to go out. On Sunday night past I knocked up a virginal batch at the homestead and via another IPA (or two) they were hoovered up with pupil-dilating aplomb.

There’s nothing fancy about these bad boys and I think, in a sense, that’s what appeals to me. If you’re going trashy, dirty fries is the epitome, the zenith, the apex. I reckon if I took a food truck into town on any given Saturday night circa 1.30am, I would make a fortune flogging bucket-loads of this stuff to the late night revellers. Forget your chip, pea, gravies or salty pizzas or kebabs revelling in their glorification of horse-meat… if you wants something to rub round your face and make you feel like a Roman Emperor discovering debauchery, this my friends, is the mucky ticket.

The dirty fries I first encountered in the eatery included a ‘cheese sauce.’ That stuff looked like it had just been squirted out of a bottle with Donald Trump’s face on it. I’m sorry, but whilst I loved the dirty fries, I draw the line at squalid. Therefore and in the interests of keeping things semi-fresh, in my recipe I’ve replaced the bottled cheese sauce with a quick Mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese). It also adds a certain touch of class. To paraphrase the commoner-garden adage, fur coat but scant under garments.

INGREDIENTS
• Oven chips (fill a tray, don’t be stingy)
• tbsp of worchestershire
• Cajun seasoning (1 tbsp of oregano, 1 of cayenne, 1 of sweet paprika, 1 ground black pepper, 1 of salt – mixed)
• 3 or 4 spring onions, chopped
• 3 or 4 slices of bacon, crisped and chopped
• grated cheese
• handful of jalapenos
• sriracha mayo (1 tbsp of each, mixed)

FOR THE QUICK MORNAY
• 1 tbsp of butter
• 1 tbsp of plain flour
• pint of milk, approx
• half tsp of mustard
• large handful of cheddar
• seasoning

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THE DIRTY PLAN
Fire up the oven and whilst that’s heating to the temp required for the oven chips, make the Cajun seasoning. Top tip: Rub the oregano with your fingertips to make it more powdery.

Add the oven chips to your baking tray and to them, add the worchestershire and then sprinkle liberally with the Cajun seasoning.

Bang in the oven for the required time and, to save on mess, stick the bacon on another tray and stick that in the oven as well to crisp up and then chop.

Chop the spring onions, grate the cheese and then make the Mornay (add the butter to a sauce pan and melt. Add the flour and stir on a medium heat until it smells biscuity (minute or two).

Add half the milk and whisk until thickened and then keep adding some more milk until the sauce has the consistency of thick paint; remember the cheese will thicken it further. Add the mustard and whisk through and then take the pan off the heat and add the cheese and whisk through. Check seasoning and it’s done. Set aside).

When the chips are done (I’d have turned them at least once to help with the crisping), remove from the oven and then start the dirtifying process.

Add half the chips to a casserole dish, top with half of the other ingredients (bacon, spring onions, grated cheddar, Mornay sauce, jalapenos, sriracha mayo) then layer on the rest of the chips and top with the other half of the same ingredients.

Place the casserole dish in the oven for just long enough for the cheese to melt and – BOOM! – it’s Roman emperor time.

Top with yet more sriracha and spring onions (if there’s any left) and as a precautionary measure, move that belt back a notch.

• Footnote: Anyone looking to invest in my food truck idea, give me a shout. I can cook AND drive.

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