Dirty rice: a Cajun dish of steamed white rice plus stuff, such as giblets and chopped vegetables. Dirty fries: a not-so-Cajun dish of french fries plus stuff.
The stuff can be as basic as melted Velveeta or as fancy as truffles and shaved Parmesan; the sum total can equal a pumped-up side dish or a full-on meal. Technically, chili fries qualify as dirty fries. It’s a rather loose culinary category.
Banana peppers are mild yellow chilies often sold pickled. Find them in jars near the pickles and other condiments.
During a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest I made the acquaintance of two types of dirty fries, both high on audacity.
The first is served by the Hawaii-themed Marination restaurant chain in Seattle: Aloha Fries. Think of the dish as a loco moco from an alternate universe: kalua pork and a fried egg on a bed of fries, green onions and a squirt of creamy chili sauce.
The other comes from a sandwich shop called Lardo in Portland, Ore., where the dirty fries come with pork pieces, pickled peppers and Parmesan. There’s other stuff, too, not all of it starting with P. My favorite part was the sprinkling of fried sage leaves.
Although both restaurants make their components from scratch, it would be easy to recreate either one at home with fast-food fries, store-bought pork and all the toppings piled into a big hot mess. For the Aloha Fries finish with a mixture of mayonnaise and Sriracha or other spicy sauce.
You’d barely need a recipe, but I’m going to give you one anyway, for a homestyle version of Lardo’s dirty fries.
Start with frozen french fries, which I suggest you bake rather than deep-fry, because it’s neater and a little less unhealthy.
Roast your own pork if you like, or buy some. Here you can make a flavor profile choice: Go Chinese with roast pork belly from your favorite restaurant or Chinatown shop, or Filipino with a portion of lechon. The pork goes in the oven with the fries. This heats the meat and lets it share its flavor and oiliness with the potatoes.
The true revelation is the fried sage, simply and quickly done with just a little oil. It’s good enough to eat alone, but also makes a nice accompaniment to dishes besides fries, such as soups and pastas.
Dirty Fries With Fried Sage
- 1 pound frozen french fries
- 1/2 pound roast pork (Chinese-style or Filipino lechon), sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup sage leaves
- 1/3 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 cup sliced pickled banana peppers
- 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread fries in single layer on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pork pieces. Bake 20-30 minutes, until fries are golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, heat oil in small skillet over medium-high. Be sure sage leaves are dry; water in the hot oil will cause splattering. Test oil temperature with one leaf; it should sizzle and quickly turn crisp. Add remaining leaves a few at a time for just a few seconds; drain on paper towel. Leaves will burn quickly so pay attention. Sprinkle with salt.
Remove fries and pork from oven. Place on serving plate; toss. Sprinkle with banana peppers, Parmesan cheese and fried sage. Serves 4.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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