ANNIE SMITHERS

The Saturday Paper - - Front Page -

There’s no need to be co­quet­tish about fried food. It has a deep al­lure, but let’s face it: fried food has taken a bad rap over the years. Trans fats, sat­u­rated fats, dirty deep­fry­ing oil, ques­tion­able in­gre­di­ents hid­den un­der soggy, bad-tast­ing bat­ter.

Per­fectly ex­e­cuted fried food is a joy to be­hold, how­ever. So many things need to come into play.

Qual­ity fresh deep-fry­ing oil. Good in­gre­di­ents. An un­der­stand­ing of the tem­per­a­ture of the oil, hot enough to seal the food but not so hot as to over­colour it.

I can re­mem­ber some das­tardly at­tempts at fried food as a child. Over­crowd­ing our lit­tle round GE deep fryer with too much food, not un­der­stand­ing what the ef­fect would be of the re­sult­ing drop in tem­per­a­ture. Us­ing the same oil I’d cooked flat­head tails in to cook dough­nuts. Re­ally, there are some mem­o­ries bet­ter not re­mem­bered at all.

Bad mem­o­ries aside, let’s talk about cro­quettes. Brought into the mod­ern ver­nac­u­lar by the ever-present Es­coffier in about 1898, the name is from the French cro­quer, “to crunch”. Dare I say it, they were a ve­hi­cle for us­ing up left­overs. The cro­quette then spread across the world. Each cui­sine seems to have some ver­sion of it. The Span­ish and the Ital­ians have be­come prac­ti­tion­ers supreme of the hum­ble cro­quette, of­ten fea­tur­ing on tapas and an­tipasto plat­ters.

Here we have one of my very favourite pair­ings: caramelised onion and Gruyere, bound to­gether with mashed potato, lov­ingly rolled into the clas­sic cylin­der shape, gen­tly egged and bread­crumbed, and then fried un­til they are just right.

I love fried food like this with a crisp green salad tossed in a sharp vinai­grette to nib­ble on. How­ever, if you pre­fer, you could make a lit­tle tomato and chilli sauce for dip­ping or even serve them along­side a rare roasted eye

• fil­let as the potato com­po­nent.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Earl Carter

ANNIE SMITHERS is the owner and chef of du Fer­mier in Tren­tham, Vic­to­ria.

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