Fries Are a Crouton

Fries Are a Crouton

Pendants will tell you a crouton is piece of cubed bread, tossed in oil and seasoning and baked or fried until crunchy, but a crouton is merely a construct. If it provides textural contrast to a pile of raw vegetables, it is, in my book (or blog), a crouton. Cheese is a crouton. Tater tots are a crouton. Pizza is a crouton. And, as the good people of Pittsburgh know, French fries are a crouton.

This is one of those things that I was sure I had written about before (I had not), because I have been aware of it for some time. Many years ago, my then-husband (my wasband, if you will) went on a business trip to Pittsburgh, and returned with tales of French fries on everything, including salads, an idea I was immediately in support of.

Much like the famous Primanti Bros’ sandwich, adding fries to the dish, instead of serving it as a side, makes it a more complete and filling meal, better suited to a working man who burns more calories than someone who works at a desk, and may need to eat his lunch unencumbered by utensils and/or plates. (I’ve heard there are many of these working men in Pittsburgh.)

But whether you “need” the extra calories or simply appreciate the delicious elegance of a streamlined vegetable-and-carb eating experience, you should put French fries on your salad. It’s most common on salads that contain meat, like a steak salad or grilled chicken salad, but fried potatoes are neutral enough that you can sprinkle them on top of any salad without any fear of flavour clashing.

I do think they would be particularly welcome on a salad with punchy, acidic dressing, like a Greek salad, or something with cheese or bacon, like a wedge salad, as cheese and bacon are already natural fry friends. They’re also good with ranch dressing, which is obvious, but must be mentioned.

In terms of which kind of fry, well that’s dealer’s choice, but I think a classic, crisp, fast-food style fry works best, but I wouldn’t be mad at a curly, shoestring, or even a waffle. I do recommend frying them in duck fat, however. (And I always will.)

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