Almost all French fries in restaurants are terrible, made with frozen potatoes and rarely to order. We put up with that because fries made with fresh potatoes at home are such a pain in the neck to prepare. Our kids love them so much, however, that we’re constantly finding ourselves going through the ordeal–and then enjoying the results very much.
Start with large, starchy potatoes. Blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then fry them twice. The latter step is not essential, as the people who crowd in grabbing fries after the first frying will prove. But it adds a magical crunch to the fries.
- 5 lbs. potatoes
- Organic canola oil
- Salt and pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you’re peeling the potatoes (if you want them peeled). After peeling, slice the potatoes as thick as you like in whatever shape you like, but put them into a bowl of cold water while they’re waiting for the next step.
2. Boil the sliced potatoes for about a minute. This will not only begin their cooking, but also prevent the sugars from oxidizing and turning the raw potatoes brown. Drain and collect them in a colander.
3. In a second large pot, bring at least 2 quarts of canola oil to a temperature of 360 degrees. Use a fat thermometer to monitor this. The oil should not fill more than one-third the depth of the pot.
4. Put a handful of the cut, blanched, cooled fries into the hot oil. Stand there with a skimmer or slotted spoon to stir the pot should the foam rise too high.
5. Fry the potatoes until they’re just light brown. Remove and drain. Let the temperature of the oil return to 360 degrees before lowering the next batch.
em>If you can keep from eating them at this point, let the fries cool a bit, then follow this step:
6. When ready to serve, heat the oil back up to about 400 degrees. I warn you that we are in grease-fire territory here, and you should be very careful about this. Have a dry-chemical fire extinguisher handy. (Never, ever use water to put out a grease fire.) It might be best to do this outside. Place a handful of the once-fried fries back into the basket and lower it into the hot oil. Fry for about 15 seconds; they will brown very quickly, and may even puff up. Drain, salt, pepper, and serve immediately.
Safer Alternative. I find I get similar (but not quite as good) results by frying the potatoes just once, but in lower-temperature oil–about 325 degrees. The frying takes much longer–enough to drive you a little nuts–but the results are terrific.
For a distinctly New Orleans way of eating fries (and the Belgians also like this), serve with a dish of seasoned mayonnaise.