Goodbyes and Hearts of Palm Fries

3.10.11 § 8 Comments

This is a true story. Almost one year ago, I was walking to the subway on my way to work when I realized I was walking next to James Oseland, editor-in-chief of SAVEUR magazine. I was so excited to see him that I reached out and touched his arm without pausing to think about how inappropriate this was. Then, to cover up for my inappropriate touching, I obviously had to start talking. Mr. Oseland was unbelievably gracious as I stumbled through my greeting, and long story short, about four months after that I had left my full-time job at a nonprofit and was working as an editorial assistant (read: glorified intern) at SAVEUR. For weeks I kept needing to pinch myself once or twice a day to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The position, which was originally slated to last only three months, somehow stretched into seven, and during that time, I had some really amazing experiences. I got to see how SAVEUR works, tasted some amazing creations from the test kitchen, and even tried my hand at writing a few short pieces for the magazine. The most exciting moment was when I inserted myself into a conversation I had been eavesdropping on (well, not eavesdropping exactly, the office is open so it’s kind of hard not to hear what’s being said), and before I knew it I had landed the responsibility of writing an article. Like, a real one. Not written in the third person!

Writing that article was the biggest learning experience of all. I was lucky to work with senior editor Betsy Andrews, who simultaneously scares me and inspires fierce respect. Somehow (I’m placing my bet on magic), she took my unpolished 600 words about hearts of palm and came out with 250 or so words that, what do you know, were exactly what I meant to say. While it’s weird to see a finished article that’s pretty different from what you wrote, I’m amazed and thankful for the amazing job that the SAVEUR editors do. And really, who cares if it’s exactly what I wrote?! Something of mine was in SAVEUR magazine! And boy howdy, I even got to handpick the accompanying recipe. (To me, choosing a recipe to be included in the magazine felt like a really big deal.)

I thought it only appropriate that on my last day at SAVEUR I should make that recipe, Hearts of Palm Fries, to go with my steak dinner. I was celebrating. I needed to celebrate because one year ago, if you’d told me I’d be coming off a seven-month stint at one of the most respected publications in the world of food, I would have called you crazy. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had, because it’s they’re mostly a result of dumb luck. Well, and of my inability to keep from touching famous people on the street. Thanks to the SAVEUR team for taking me in and teaching me some tough lessons. It was an amazing ride.

PS – Please don’t ask me what I’m going to do next…because really? Hell if I know.

Hearts of Palm Fries with Spicy Chipotle Mayonnaise
adapted from SAVEUR
serves 4-6

*Making this for just myself, I cut the recipe for the mayo in half and cut the recipe for the fries themselves into like one quarter. I still had more than enough fries.

1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced and spooned sauce from the can
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
Canola oil, for frying
4 cups panko bread crumbs
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 28-oz. cans hearts of palm, large pieces halved lengthwise
Kosher salt to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, chiles, lime juice, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I just eyeballed my amounts, but if you make your nervous you can definitely measure. If you like your spicy mayo to be extra spicy, spoon some of the sauce from the can into the mayonnaise.** I highly recommend this. Set the mayo aside.

Pour oil into a saucepan that isn’t very big, because you’ll want 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil for frying.*** Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer (I don’t), the way to tell the oil is hot enough is by inserting a wooden spoon into the oil. If tiny bubbles come up around the edges like the spoon is frying, it means you’re good to go! Meanwhile, place bread crumbs and flour on 2 separate shallow plates and set both aside. Whisk together buttermilk and eggs in a medium bowl. Make yourself a little assembly line with a clean plate standing by. Working in batches, toss hearts of palm in flour until evenly coated, shaking off excess and then place them to the side. Once they are all floured, dredge them in the egg mixture. Next, lay them on the bread crumbs and toss to coat. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel—lined plate to drain and immediately season with salt. Serve warm with chipotle mayo.

**When a recipe calls for chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, it usually only calls for one or two, and there are usually about 12 in a can. This is annoying. I’ve recently discovered that you can put the rest of the chiles and the sauce into a ziploc and stick it in the freezer. Just get them out the morning before you want to cook with them. This trick is awesome! Also, if you don’t know where to find chipotle peppers, they’re with the Mexican/Latin ingredients in the grocery store in a short, fat can.

***This is a lot of oil. I was really upset about having to waste this much oil, so I started googling, and I found out that you re-use oil. To get the panko crumbs out, I strained the oil through a coffee filter and then poured the clean oil back into its container. I’m going to refrigerate this. I’m not sure if it’s necessary or not, but someone on the internet said it was, so I’m thinking better safe than sorry.

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§ 8 Responses to Goodbyes and Hearts of Palm Fries

  • Tamara says:

    Wow! Great post! Makes me want to try these fries RIGHT NOW!

  • sofia says:

    still getting over how awesome your james oseland story + internship acquirement is. the touch was priceless, ridiculous and SO totally worth it! hah 🙂

    and what a wonderful experience – having a real editor review your writing and make changes. this internship sounds awesome, but i’m sure whatever you move onto will be a good experience… most likely not as glamourous (let’s face it, it’s saveur) but another adventure nonetheless.

  • renie says:

    i bet he didn’t mind it at all when you touched him — you’ve touched so many people in so many different ways! loved the article (as always!) and I hope that although your internship is over that your articles aren’t. keep cooking, but most especially, (since this is so near and dear to my heart) keep writing! your articles always make me want to get into the kitchen and also get out into the world. great job, gal!

  • Just saw Saveur tweet your going away post… Good luck in the future, and keep up the great writing!

  • Jo says:

    Congratulations on a great seven months!

  • Brianne says:

    That’s such an insane story! Good things come to those who seek them, huh? Best of luck in the immediate future!

  • Alisa says:

    I am so making this. YUM! What an incredible story, what great life experience you have gained. Just keep living your passions and you can’t go wrong.

  • Jesse says:

    Congrats, Tyla! So glad I got to work with you — if just for a little bit! Keep me updated on what you decide to do next!

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