Eating organic food doesn't mean you have to relinquish the pleasures of your favorite fast food choices... in fact, you can make them at home using local produce. By controlling the ingredients that go into your home-cooked versions of fast food classics, you can feel good about serving burgers and fries for dinner!
Homemade French Fries with Homemade Mayonnaise
French fries come from Belgium, confusingly enough, where they're usually served with mayonnaise. Make both fries and mayo at home to accompany anything from organic steak, roast chicken or homemade veggie burgers.
Deep-Fried Belgian Fries
First, select 5 pounds of organic, local potatoes for frying. You can use any potato variety you like; in America, Russet potatoes are the standard, while a yellow-fleshed, waxy potato (like Yukon Golds) is used in Europe. Slice whatever potato you decide to use into fries, keeping the skin on for added fiber and nutrients. Be sure to soak the potato slices in water for at least an hour (or overnight) before frying, and then pat them dry. Heat a quart of peanut oil to 325 degrees F and fry each batch for 3-4 minutes. This first fry will only turn the potatoes limp and slightly yellow; that's normal. Remove them with a skimmer or slotted spoon to drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. When all of the potatoes have been fried, increase the heat of the oil to 375 and fry again, this time allowing them to take on a deep, golden color, another 3 minutes per batch. Remove to clean paper towels and salt immediately.
Deep-frying at home isn't nearly as frightening as some make it out to be, and when done properly with good, organic products, it's not that bad once in awhile. For regular weeknight dinners, though, I make roasted potato fries that do the trick nicely. Cut your potatoes of choice into wedges or fries and soak in water for half an hour to an hour. Drain and dry well, then toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin!) and a good amount of salt. Spread in one layer on foil-lined baking sheets, then roast for 30 minutes total at 400 degrees, tossing once.
Either fry will go great with homemade mayonnaise. Add some garlic -- either minced or roasted -- to make aioli, or a bit of adobo sauce to make a chipotle mayonnaise. As for ketchup, Heinz makes an organic version of their classic ketchup to go with fries or homemade sliders, but we prefer our homemade ketchup, of course.
Grilling season is still a ways off for most of us, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy homemade burgers. Sliders are easier to manage in a home kitchen; all you need is a very hot pan (I like cast-iron).
Buy a mix of ground chuck and ground sirloin to make your sliders. For a pound of each, use 1 grated onion, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire and a pinch of salt. Add everything to a bowl and combine it with your fingers without compressing the meat. Gently form balls, about the size of large meatballs, and line them up on a baking tray. Lightly press them into thick patties and salt the top side.
Wipe a cast-iron skillet with a towel dampened with vegetable oil and heat it over the highest flame. Open all the windows. Place the sliders into the skillet in batches, being sure to leave enough room to flip them. Place them salted side-down and salt the other side when they hit the skillet. Keep each batch warm in the oven; just turn on the light and keep the door closed, or preheat to 200 and then turn it off.
Serve a platter of toppings -- pickles, cheese, tomatoes, sliced onion rings, lettuce -- so that everyone can make their own!