There are so many exciting aspects of Christian David Reynoso‘s new recipe for Rustic leek and potato soup. (Permission to label it a chowder?) There’s the gremolata, which the herbs are fried in before crumbling (hello, texture!). Since it is “rustic”, you don’t have to deal with mashed potatoes (Food mills, blergh), and last but not least, there are the fried capers.
I love the salty, cool punch of the capers straight out of the jar – I’ll chop them coarsely and coarsely stir them into the vinaigrette or sprinkle them on a fancy composed salad or they flash in green sauce– but I like them best when they are cooked. They don’t just make their salty claim in what they cook in – be it oil or sauce or Butter and wine (piccata!)– but they also get soft and plump and ready to melt in your mouth instead of popping like a balloon.
And when capers are not only gently sautéed, but also fried aggressively, they are even better. On my “Foods Very Good Fried” list (which I will tell you is constantly growing) there are capers, as well as green tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, tofu, pizza dough, and choux pastry (which, when fried, it becomes a French cruller!). When frying, capers open like Flowers bloom in slow motion (and the Dominique Ansel Marshmallows they inspired). The inside will retain some moisture, but the outside will dry out and turn brown and crispy. Now they’re not just a salty contrast, but a salty, crispy contrast – a logical crown on polenta, bean broth, charred, roasted cauliflower, yogurt dip, tomato toast and, of course, creamy chowder.
Frying capers is a little more work than opening a jar – but it’s worth it. To do this, you should first dry your capers well. Pat them on a kitchen towel. The drier they are, the less they stutter and the more crispy they become. Then heat your oil in a pan or in a high-sided saucepan to reduce the risk of splashing. You will want about ¼ – ½ “. Wait for the oil to get hot: it should shimmer. You can see if it’s done by adding just ONE capers first; it should sizzle immediately. Add the capers and work in batches if you do you a lot at once (otherwise cool the oil down) – and fry it until it opens and turns brown, just 30 seconds and 3 minutes depending on the temperature of the oil. Remove the capers from it the oil with a slotted spoon or Skimmer and drain on a lined sheet pan. They’ll get crispy when they cool down.
Now you have snack capers, but you also have another gift: caper-infused oil. For Christian’s soup he uses this aromatic oil as the basis for his sautéed flavors. Use it as a base for a salad dressing or sprinkle with smashed potatoes or a large plate of sliced tomatoes. The world, as nobody says, is your caper.