My mom once told me that all humans needed to eat for survival was milk and potatoes. She claimed that milk and potatoes contained all the nutrients that you need to stay alive and not have some creepy disease. I have always been skeptical of her claim–as she is not a nutritionist–but I do know that I could personally live off of cheese fries alone. I know this because I already kind of do.
I eat cheese fries for lunch or dinner about four to five times a week. There’s one bar in my neighborhood that knows exactly what I want every time I’m there: cheese fries and a glass (or three) of Merlot. People tell me it’s unhealthy, but it’s the one thing I can never quit. I can quit eating bagels or potato chips, drinking soda or alcohol, but I can’t quit cheese fries.
Cheese is really important to me. In fact, I’ve often been quoted as saying that “cheese is my favorite part of the day.” French fries are also really important to me. When you combine the two, it can approach an almost religious experience for me. My friends in Boston know that whenever I’m in town, I have to go to Sunset Cantina and order an entire plate of their cheese fries for myself. My friends also know not to try to talk to me while I’m eating my meal because if I lose focus, the dream collapses and I start to cry.
Obviously, eating cheese fries in restaurants is not only unhealthy, but expensive. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I have created my own healthy cheese fry recipe that you can all take and enjoy on your own.
Meghan’s Homemade Cheese Fries (inspired by Rachael Ray and various decadent fantasies I have had about potatoes and cheese.)
Potatoes (You’ll only need either two big ones or four small ones if you’re like me and always eat alone. You’ll need more if there are more people. Though I don’t know why you’d want more people around at dinner. More people means less cheese fries for you. That’s just horrifying to me. WHY?)
Olive Oil (I don’t care if it’s extra virgin or not. I don’t judge the personal life decisions of my olive oil.)
Various herbs and spices (that you can steal from your roommate’s spice rack.)
1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Or 415. Or 412. Whatever. No one’s judging you.
2) Wash your potatoes. I don’t know if you know this, but potatoes come from the dirt. You don’t want dirt in your mouth. So it’s important to scrub your potatoes before you wash them.
3) Use your roommates sweet knife and cutting board to cut your washed potatoes into slices. Pro tip: Aim to get about 10 fries from each potato. (By “pro tip”, I mean that’s what Rachael Ray said on her TV show and I remembered it.)
4) Take out a cookie sheet. Put all your cut up potatoes on the cookie sheet. Drizzle your morally dubious olive oil on the potatoes and then use “happy hands” to mix the potatoes around so every individual fry has oil on it.
5) Sprinkle salt and pepper on your fries. Then add your favorite herbs or spices. I like dashing rosemary, thyme and tarragon on mine. You might like old bay or Italian seasoning. Go crazy. This is your moment.
6) Put the cookie sheet into the oven.
7) Leave the kitchen. Sit in your living room and watch a rerun of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Or go into your bedroom and watch British comedy sketches on youtube. Just as a watched pot never boils, fries never fry if you’re not wasting time.
At around 7 minutes, the fries will start to smell really good. Check them to make sure they aren’t burning. They aren’t ready to be flipped yet, so go back to doing nothing for another five minutes.
8 ) 12-15 minutes should have passed since when you put your fries in the oven. Now you can flip your fries. You’ll notice that the side that was on the pan is golden brown. This is good stuff. You’re doing really well! Go back to doing nothing for about 7 minutes. You deserve it.
9) You’re probably really hungry now. The fries probably smell delicious. They are taunting you from the kitchen. Don’t resist them. Go to the kitchen. Check to see that they are almost done. Are they? Good. Keep them in the oven. It’s time for CHEESE.
What cheese should you use? That’s a deeply personal question. Everyone has to choose their cheese for themselves. If you are using a liquid based cheese sauce, wait until the fries are on your plate and skip this next step. If you are using real cheese, it’s time to cut it up. I personally use Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese on my fries (or sharp cheddar. Or Dubliner and sharp cheddar.) I cut about five slices of cheese and then chop those slices into smaller pieces.
Carefully open the oven and pull out the cookie sheet with oven mitts (you’ve been using oven mitts the whole time, right? If not, you are now in the hospital for burns. I’m sorry I didn’t mention the oven mitts sooner. Let me know what hospital you’re at and I’ll send you a tiny stuffed bear holding a sign that says, “I’m Sorry I Forgot To Mention The Oven Mitts”.) I usually move all of the fries to one section of the pan with a spatula. Then, I sprinkle the cheese on top of the fries so that cheese covers ALL OF THE FRIES.
10) Put the pan back in the oven. Pace around the kitchen for one minute. Cut another slice of cheese and eat it. After the minute has passed, remove your cookie sheet from the oven. Your cheese fries are done!
11) Put your cheese fries on a plate. Add more seasoning, malt vinegar and ketchup if you like.
*Disclaimer: Meghan is not a chef, nor is she a cook. She is a hungry young woman who sometimes is too poor or lazy to buy her cheese fries so she perfected this easy (though) wordy method of satiating her appetite. Enjoy!