The summer Jerry and I met he went on a 10 day whirlwind excursion with a group of friends to England, France, and Germany. The fellow who organized the trip had distant relatives in Germany. Before jumping over the pond, our friend contacted them and they graciously opened their home to them while they were in Germany. They also opened their hearts, broke out the beer, got out the guns, and stuck a giant zucchini on a pole. Everything you ever wanted at a family reunion.
Apparently, these are all the ingredients you need for a frolicking good time at your family Schützenfest (pronounced very much like what it is: Shoots N’ Fest). And just what in tarnation is a Schützenfest, you ask? Well, that was my question too. Luckily, Jerry had his Blackberry ready at his hip, shot a 30 second video, and sent it to me. Otherwise I would never have believed him.
He sent me a video of everyone in a circle around a 10 foot pole with a large zucchini stuck to the top of it and they were shooting at the squash. With a gun. The object of the “game” was simple.
- Don’t shoot anybody, shoot only the zucchini
- Whoever fires the final shot to bring the “zucchini bird” down wins
- The winner is crowned the Schützenfest king or queen
Wow. To think of the things we did (and survived doing) for entertainment before the Internet. Mind boggling.
So about 5 years ago, the family from Germany repaid the visit and came to see their long lost (now found) relatives over here in the Midwest. Thankfully, our friends did NOT host a Schützenfest. Instead they swung by our place here on the lake for a boat ride. Then I made a huge pile of Papa Frites (recipe below) with sausages, roasted peppers, aioli, and a huge plate of Wisconsin cheese. It went over really well. They were in heaven!
Oh yes, and beer… lots of beer. It was really hot that summer.
Serve these chunky crispy home fries with some sausage, roasted red bell peppers, and a side of homemade mayo (aioli) and you’ve got yourself a real treat. It’s causal and fun! Just pile it all up on a big plate in the center of the table. Let everybody help themselves with tongs and if they want to eat with their fingers… go for it!
Want the real trick to crispy Papa Frites? I learned this from a friend of ours, Ian. He’s an English chef down in Mexico who gives impromptu cooking classes in his kitchen from time to time. He’s such a great guy and an excellent chef.
He puts baking soda in the water he boils his potatoes in. Genius! The baking soda breaks down the exterior of the potato. When you pull them out of the water and rough them up a little, you get a bit of a potato slurry on the outside of the potato wedge. This makes them super crispy and gives them a beautiful golden brown color too.
Papa Frites (Homemade French Fries)
Papa Frites - A simple trick makes the best crispy homemade fries ever! | www.lakesidetable.com
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- olive oil
- 3 bell peppers red, yellow, or orange*
- 1 pound rope sausage
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup various fresh herbs parsley, thyme, oregano (chopped)
- salt and pepper
- large soup pot filled with boiling water
- spider or slotted spoon
- measuring cups and spoons
- knife and cutting board
- 2 cookie sheets
- large bowl
- Preheat the oven to 450º
- Cut the potatoes into long wedges. 6 per potato. Cut the peppers and sausage into 2 inch chunks. Put the peppers and sausage on a cookie sheet, drizzle them with olive oil and set aside.
- Add the baking soda to the boiling water. Carefully put the potato wedges into the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the water with the spider or the slotted spoon and put them into the large bowl.
- Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and gently rough them up a bit by tossing them around the bowl until you start to see them slurry up.
- Oil the other cookie sheet with a generous amount of olive oil. Lay the potato wedges out on the oiled cookie sheet.
- Put the potatoes on the top rack and the peppers/sausage tray on a lower rack. Flip each potato wedge after 10 minutes and sprinkle 1/2 of the garlic and herbs over the potatoes and the other 1/2 over the peppers and sausage. Bake for 10 minutes more or until they turn golden brown and crispy.
- Serve with aioli.
*I like the red, yellow or orange bell peppers, not green. I find green peppers give people gas and they can taste bitter.