For Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day (November 9th), we made these oven-baked fries flavored with the Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout (photo #1, recipe below).
While ras el hanout is piquant rather than pungent (here’s the difference), it fit the bill—especially since the spice blend was augmented with garlic, paprika and cilantro.
As just mentioned, ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend; it is also used in Algeria and Tunisia.
The name translates as “top of the shop,” i.e., the best.
There is no one recipe for ras el hanout: Every spice merchant has a proprietary recipe, and the cooks who buy the spices debate who has the best version.
The mixture often includes 30 or more of a spice merchant’s best ingredients: whole spices, dried roots and leaves, ground together.
Traditional uses include as a dry rub or marinade for grilled meats, in starches (couscous, potatoes, rice) and traditional Moroccan dishes like b’stilla and tagines.
You’ll find many uses for it. As with all blends, a bonus benefit is that you don’t have to measure out multiple seasonings.
We use ras el hanout on many things:
If you don’t want to buy a jar, here’s a recipe from food writer Marc Bittman:
This recipe was developed by Tina Dawson of Love Is In My Tummy for the Idaho Potato Commission.
1. PEEL and slice each potato vertically in half. Take one half, then slice it vertically in half again to reduce the thickness. Flip it on the flat side, and slice again into 4 fry-shaped pieces. Repeat with all the potatoes.
2. IMMERSE the chopped potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes. This step is essential to removing the starch, making for a crispier fry.
3. RINSE the potatoes until the water runs clear. Drain. Using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, dab until the excess moisture is removed. Transfer to a clean, dry bowl.
4. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F (220°C). Position the baking rack to the lowest position and another rack to the slot just above it.
5. COMBINE the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro. Toss to coat the spices evenly over the potatoes. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking tray or two medium trays (you may line the tray(s) with foil to make clean-up easier).
6. BAKE for 30 minutes. Halfway during baking, swap the top and bottom trays, and flip the fries. Once the time is up and the fries are crisp…
7. REMOVE from the oven, toss with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with condiment(s) choice.
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