Top Chef’s Richard Blais Makes Side Dishes the Main Event
John Lee; inset: Courtesy Richard Blais
We may start calling Richard Blais “the big dipper.”
The popular chef and former Top Chef All Stars winner recently threw tradition out the (kitchen) window and paired two beloved vegetables—artichokes and French fries—with inventive dipping sauces that put a thoroughly modern spin on things.
First, the French fries: He tossed his extra-crispy, twice-fried potatoes with loads of herbs—parsley, dill, rosemary—plus lemon zest and salt, then topped them with Parmesan.
But he wasn’t done yet! The chef whipped up an easy-to-make sauce with store-bought ranch dressing, lemon juice and hot sauce. Where ketchup delivers a sweet finish to the fries, this new dip is fiery yet creamy.
Next, Blais turned his attention to the artichokes. Instead of melted butter (yawn), he reawakened this elegant veggie with a souped-up sauce made with dill, capers, lemon and paprika. It sounds so good, you’re smacking your lips, aren’t you?
Both recipes are featured in his latest cookbook, Try This at Home. What are you waiting for? Try them at home!
French Fries with Fresh Herbs, Sea Salt and Sri-Rancha
(Note: Recipe adapted from the original.)
3 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
3 cups peanut oil
1½ cups vegetable oil
Sea salt, to taste
1 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
Parmesan cheese wedge, for shaving
Sri-rancha, for dipping (see below)
1. Halve the potatoes lengthwise. Lay them flat side down on the cutting board and cut lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices, then stack the slices a few at a time and cut into ¼ inch-thick batons. Soak the potatoes in a bowl of icy water, 15 minutes. Drain and dry on a thick kitchen towel or layers of paper towels,
2. Fill a large heavy pot with oil; the oil should be at least 3 inches deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 230 degrees F.
3. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until soft and limp but not brown, about 5 minutes, then remove and drain on a cooling rack or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Increase the oil temp to 350 degrees F. Refry the potatoes in small batches until they are golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
4. Transfer to a large paper-towel-lined bowl and toss with salt while still warm. Once all the potatoes are fried, toss them with the parsley, dill, rosemary, lemon zest and more salt until evenly seasoned. Transfer the fries to a serving platter and, using a vegetable peeler, shave thin strips of Parmesan over the top. Serve warm with the Sri-Rancha for dipping.
2 cups ranch dressing
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1½ tbsp.)
¼ cup Sriracha hot sauce
Put the ranch dressing into a small bowl, add the lemon juice and Sriracha, and whisk until fully incorporated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
4 large globe artichokes, stems trimmed
1 cup aioli or mayonnaise
3 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp. drained capers, chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. smoked sea salt
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
Hot sauce, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Set a steamer basket in a large pot with a lid, fill with 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Set the artichokes stem end down in the basket, cover, and steam until a knife meets no resistance when it pierces the steam of an artichoke, about 20-25 minutes. The artichokes can be served warm or slightly chilled.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the aioli (or mayonnaise), dill, capers, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, and paprika until well combined. Add the hot sauce and black pepper and stir.
3. To serve, arrange artichokes in four salad plates, and divide the aioli mixture among small bowls for dipping.