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Chili Cheese Fries


chili cheese fries

When I had a food truck, we used to participate in the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) every summer here in Toronto. And if you know anything about fairs or carnivals, it’s that the food is almost as important, if not more so, than the rides and other attractions. The returning favourites like funnel cakes or blooming onions are carnival staples, but there are so many new and unique dishes cropping up each year (ever heard of pickle pizza?). I used to have some fun coming up with the craziest food possible to sell at my truck and I think I channeled a little bit of that energy when I came up with this chili cheese fries recipe.


The secret to this recipe is in how to prepare the potatoes. The potato is the vessel for this dish and truthfully, I never thought a potato could be this good and the star of the show. The first step is to cut your potatoes into bricks - I know, doesn’t sound appealing, but essentially, you’re making a giant fry, so there’s more surface area on the outside to get crispy and more potato on the inside to be pillowy and smooth. Next, you want to make sure to boil your potatoes first, this gets the interior nice and soft, make sure to salt the water too, so you give your potatoes some flavour. Then, you’re going to cook your potatoes on the hot plancha, turning over on each side to crisp up and turn golden brown. To get this process started, you’re going to use a bit of canola oil to help that first side fry, then, you’re going to use melted butter the rest of the time, just pouring that melted butter over the potatoes each time you flip, to get each side. After about 45 minutes, you’re going to have the most insane potatoes – buttery and crispy on the outside and creamy and delicious on the inside.


The other component that makes this recipe out of this world is the chili sauce. I decided to do it a bit differently and use smoked sausage. I used hot Italian sausage and then seasoned it with chili powder, Mexican hot sauce, passata and light beer and then popped it into the smoker. The light beer adds moisture so you can smoke it over a longer time without drying it out. If you don’t want to use alcohol, you can either use water, Clamato or stock in its place (just choose one, not all three!). You can also find unsmoked chorizo spiced sausage and use that instead of Italian sausage, the rest would stay the same. Let the sausage cook down in the smoker, making sure to mix after the first 20 minutes, and then at the 40 minute mark, mix in your pico and shredded cheese. The pico is just chopped tomato, onion and cilantro, seasoned with canola oil and salt. Put it back in the smoker for the cheese to melt, and then this sauce will cover your potatoes.


There is one more important step to prepare your potatoes before you start to build your chili cheese fries. For extra cheesy goodness, put your shredded cheese straight onto the plancha and let it melt a bit. Place one crispy ‘fry’ on top of the cheese. If you can swing it, using a spatula, fold over the cheese at one end onto your potato and give it a roll, to cover it in the cheese. Place the other two on top of the melted cheese. Let the cheese fully melt and then using two spatulas, you’re going to transfer it all to a plate prepared with a dollop of sour cream. Then top your cheesy potatoes with your sauce, garnish with chopped cilantro and dig into the most insane chili cheese fries ever. If you want to find out how to make my Chili Cheese Fries, keep reading or jump to the full recipe.


a Yukon gold potato being sliced

Set your smoker to 300F-325F and bring a large pot of water to a boil. To prep your potatoes, cut off the skin on all sides of the potato, making sure to turn it as you go to shape it into an even brick. Clean off any extra skin by cutting it off and cut off the ends.


potato bricks being put into a pot of boiling water

Place in the pot of boiling water and add salt. Allow to cook until fork tender.


light beer being poured over sausage meat in a cast iron pan with passata, chili powder and Mexican hot sauce

Meanwhile, remove the sausage from their casings into a large cast iron pan. Add the passata, chili powder, Mexican hot sauce and light beer. Mix to combine well. Place in the smoker for 20 minutes.


the partially cooked sausage meat being stirred in a cast iron pan

Make sure that at the 20 minute mark, you give your sausage a check and a stir. Then put it back in the smoker for another 20 minutes.


fresh chopped pico in a large measuring cup being stirred

Prepare your pico by finely chopping your tomato, red onion and cilantro, add to a bowl and season with 1 tbsp oil, salt, and then mix together. Set aside.


melted butter being poured over a crispy potato brick on the plancha

Next, melt your butter. Once your potatoes are tender, remove from the water and add to the plancha, drizzle with 1 tbsp canola oil. Allow to cook and the bottom to brown. Flip onto the next side and drizzle with butter. Keep flipping the potatoes and basting with butter, until each side is nicely browned and crispy and the inside is cooked, about 40-45 minutes.


cheese being sprinkled over the cooked sausage meat in a cast iron pan

As the potatoes cook, check on your sausage again at the 40-minute mark. Remove from the smoker and add about half a cup of pico and ¼ cup shredded cheese, mix and place back into the smoker for another 20 minutes.


a large dollop of sour cream being spread on a platter

To prepare for plating, spread a dollop of sour cream on a large plate or platter.


a crispy potato brick being placed on top of melted cheese on the plancha

Add the rest of the shredded cheese directly to the plancha and allow to melt a bit, place your potatoes on top of the cheese, rolling over the end potato to get covered in cheese, if possible.


cheesy potatoes being placed on top of the sour cream on a platter

Using two spatulas, remove the cheesy potatoes from the plancha and place on top of the sour cream.


sausage chili on top of the cheese fries and garnished with fresh chopped cilantro

Remove the sausage from the smoker, the cheese should be melted, and add on top of the potatoes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and dig in!


And now for the full recipe...


Chili cheese fries

Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


Ingredients:

3 Unsmoked chorizo spiced sausages or hot Italian sausage

3 Large Yukon gold or yellow potatoes

½ red onion

2 tbsp canola oil, divided

1 beefsteak tomato

2 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped (reserve some for garnish)

½ cup passata

1 tbsp Mexican hot sauce

1 tsp chili powder

100 ml light beer

½ lb butter

1/2 cup Shredded cheddar cheese, divided

3 tbsp Sour cream

Salt



How to Make the Best Chili Cheese Fries Ever


Set your smoker to 300F-325F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.


To prep your potatoes, cut off the skin on all sides of the potato, making sure to turn it as you go to shape it into an even brick. Clean off any extra skin by cutting it off and cut off the ends. Place in the pot of boiling water and add salt. Allow to cook until fork tender.


Meanwhile, remove the sausage from their casings into a large cast iron pan. Add the passata, chili powder, Mexican hot sauce and light beer. Mix to combine well. Place in the smoker for 20 minutes, then give it a check and a stir then put back in the smoker.


Prepare your pico by finely chopping your tomato, red onion and cilantro, add to a bowl and season with 1 tbsp oil, salt, stir. Set aside.


Melt your butter. Once your potatoes are tender, remove from the water and add to the plancha, drizzle with 1 tbsp canola oil. Allow to cook and the bottom to brown. Flip onto the next side and drizzle with butter. Keep flipping the potatoes and basting with butter, until each side is nicely browned and crispy and the inside is cooked, about 40-45 minutes.


As the potatoes cook, check on your sausage again at the 40-minute mark. Remove from the smoker and add about half a cup of pico and ¼ cup shredded cheese, mix and place back into the smoker for another 20 minutes.


Spread a dollop of sour cream on your plate. Add the rest of the shredded cheese directly to the plancha and allow to melt a bit, place your potatoes on top of the cheese, rolling over the end potato to get covered in cheese, if possible. Remove from the plancha and place on top of the sour cream. Remove the sausage from the smoker, the cheese should be melted, and add on top of the potatoes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and dig in!


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Matt Basile

MEET THE CHEF

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Chef Matt Basile is the founder of the Toronto-based street food brand, Fidel Gastro's, which, within four years, went from an underground sandwich pop-up to an internationally recognized food brand. Now almost a decade later, Matt has a still growing business of food experiences, restaurant consulting and new and exciting foodie-filled projects on the way. Matt always strives to be different in an industry steeped in tradition. Matt is also the author of the best-selling cookbooks Street Food Diaries and Brunch Life, and was the host of the travel food show Rebel Without a Kitchen for two seasons. More here!

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