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Oct 1, 2007 10:57 AM

The Secret of French Fries?

Why is it that French fries fried at home don't come out just the way they do when you order them in a restaurant? Mine laked that outside crispyness and inside puffyness. Is it that they need to be really cold as they go into the hot oil? (I had mine sitting in water, but not enough ice at the time to make them ice cold) Is it that you need a really deep fryer? (I used a wok, a little more shallow). I used grapeseed oil, certainly hot enough (although I didn't have a deep fry thermometer at the time) and drained and salted them afterwards... what is the secret?
(Personally I don't care much for French fries)

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  1. Did you fry them twice, at two different temperatures? That's pretty essential.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      I actually did fry them twice, although I didn't have a way to fine tune the oil temp at the time. (Really must get a new deep fry/candy thermometer). What do you mean by different temps?
      I thought that they needed to be ice cold as they go into the oil...

      1. re: Ida Red

        The oil should be at a higher temperature for the second fry: the oil should be at 320 for the first and 375 for the second. The temperature of the oil matters more than the temperature of the potatoes: the point of the cold water is more to slough off the potato starch than anything else.

        So yes, you should definitely have a good deep-fry thermometer at hand before you try this again!

    2. Don't care much for french fries but want to know the "secret"? I guess there are odder things in the world!

      Anyway, it's easy peazy to make good fries at home. Make sure you use a stock pot and fill it up - about four inches can work, but deeper is better - with a high-temperature oil (I prefer peanut oil, myself).

      Cut the potatoes lengthwise into "fries" about 1/4" in thickness. Fry them in 280F oil until they turn translucent and set aside to rest on a paper towel or rack for no less than 30 minutes. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the fries for use at a later time.

      When you're ready to go, heat the oil to 375F and drop the fries in. Not too much to lower the temperature too drastically though. Fry until golden brown. Toss with salt in a stainless bowl and you're good to go!

      1 Reply
      1. re: onocoffee

        Thank you both for your speedy tips!
        Must purchase that thermometer I've been eyeing for too long now.
        Yes, I don't care much for French fries so I never fry at home, but in this case I'm paid to cook for a family, and the visiting Grandmother loves French fries. It's been a long time since I've seen it done, and the deep fryer was never my job in restaurants (really my least favorite kitchen chore, but all the more reason to concur it!)
        Will give it another go soon.

      2. I tried the twice fried method this summer for the first time and it did make wonderful fries. I fried mine in bacon drippings in a cast iron skillet. They were sinful - so much so that my husband said "make these again, but not often."

        1. I was watching Hubert Keller on PBS yesterday who first soaked his peeled potatoes in water for 24 hours, then cut them and soaked the pieces again for 24 hours. He said the soakings were crucial to remove a lot of the starch. Then he fried them twice, the second time at a higher temp to brown it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Miss Needle

            That's beyond ridiculous. You can remove all the starch you need to remove within five minutes.

          2. I grew up not knowing the (Belgian?) two-temp method, so I did my own. Single high temp ~375. Cook 'till almost done, lift the basket and poke the fries with a fork. Cook for a few minutes more. Crispy skin, soft inside, coronarily good. Works with thick/wedgecut style. Not sure about skinny fries.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lilbuddha

              This reminds me of a silly joke the French tell: What's Belgian fondue? French fries dipped in mashed potatoes.