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Fries - Robuchon method

Anyone tried this one? I'm very skeptical....

For those who have not heard, it's rumored that his method is to put the fries (no thicker than 3/8") in a pan, cover with room temp oil, and heat until the fries are crispy.

This seems almost magical and defies everything I know about frying.

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  1. To what temperature do you heat the oil? And what oil do you use?

    1. I can almost see this working...It shadows the double fry method by first cooking the fries until soft and then the higher heat should crisp them...I just wonder how much fat the potatoes absorb?
      I'm almost compelled to try this with duck fat( 2/3 duck fat, 1/3 veg or peanut oil) to see what happens...at least then at least the fat is adding flavor, not just, um, fat...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bunnyfood

        It seems to me that its more like confit potatoes than the double fry method. In that method you still cook the first batch in hot oil, like 300 deg, and then drain and refry at closer to 400 to crisp them up.

        1. re: ESNY

          True enough...It's some of both... most of the confit recipes I've seen use constant temp...

      2. It's not just that they need to be no thicker than 3/8", but they really need to be almost exactly 3/8" square. A more accurate method could be concocted with a deep fryer and temperature monitoring, since "medium to medium high heat" really doesn't give you much detail. All said, this method truly takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, so if you're coming up with fries in 6 or 7, you're cranking your heat up too much.

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        1. There are quite a few posts, some with photos, on this method over at egullet. It was Jeffrey Steingarten, as well as some others, who attributed it to the method Rubuchon uses at home. The same method, only using sliced potatoes, is in one of the CIA books. Among those who tried it, the consensus was about 70/30 against. Many thought the potatoes were too greasy and preferred the double-fry method, although a number agreed it was quite a bit easier, and some thought they were terrific.

          1. I do a half home fries sort of thing with sliced potatoes. I cut the potatoes about 1/3" thick, put them in a non-stick pan with a a couple teaspoons of fat (usually peanut oil), salt, and some crushed red pepper. I add water half way up the sides of the potatoes, cover and put on medium heat for about 35 to 40 minutes.

            The tops of the potatoes are fluffy steamed, the bottoms are crisp fried.

            It's particular good using stock instead of water, it makes a sort of lacy crisp savory caramel from the stock boiled dry.

            She loves to season them with lime, and tons of flakey salt.

            1. I tried this last night. My fries were cut to around 1/4 inch thick. I too was very skeptical but the results were excellent. The potatoes were cut washed and dried and placed in a cast iron skillet in cold peanut oil. I turned the heat up to high and watched. The potatoes do take on a translucent appearance before the oil heats up enough to crisp the edge. As the oil heated the potatoes browned very evenly and I removed them when they were golden brown. They were place on paper towels and tossed with salt. The results were very crisp fries with no detectable greasiness. Do they contain more oil than fries done in a more traditional method, I don't know. They didn't taste or feel greasy at all. It was clean, there was no splatter, it was easy and the results were excellent. Goes against everything I thought was right but I can't argue with the end result.

              1 Reply
              1. re: scubadoo97

                This is interesting, and something I am going to try soon. We need to enlist Alton Brown to weigh the oil before/after with this method vs. traditional. Actually, maybe you could weight the potatoes (before/after) with both methods and see which ones gained the most (or lost the least).

              2. Now try this with duck fat. mmmmmmmmmm

                1. I tried this method - per Jeffrey Steingarten's write up in The Man Who Ate Everything. It works great as long as you dry the potatoes well. I tried this once (for guests of course) and neglected to dry them thoroughly. Not only was the spattering deadly, the potatoes fell apart and were wholly inedible.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sunday Cook

                    I like fries that are thicker than 3/8". For these thicker fries, I steam the potatoes, though not so that they are completely cooked. Then I chill. Then, peel, dry, cut, and dry again. Then fry.

                  2. Tried it with a russet potato and peanut oil. Ate three, threw the rest away. Far too oily!

                    1. I tried this last night, it was wonderful, initially I got some VERY cynical looks from my partner, these had to be countered with my last ditch defense which is "Indulge me!" We used Yukon Gold and dried the potatoes very well, I can't say I was particularly accurate in the way I cut them but they all turned out beautifully in about 20 minutes. The fries were brown and crispy on the outside, and what is more important, they stayed crispy instead of wilting a few minutes after they came out of the pan. We are believers! The only problem I see with this method is doing multiple batches.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: giveittomikey

                        I would like to do a side by side fry using this method and the traditional method and measure the oil before and after. Not 100% accurate as more may be lost to atomization of the oil in the more traditional method when those cold fries hit that hot oil. Still it would be interesting to see what the difference is. In my attempt at the Robuchon method I found the fries very crisp and not at all greasy in taste.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I agree, it would be interesting to find out. One thing I do know is that I ended up with a lot less fat splattered all over the stove top than when using the conventional heat the oil first method.

                      2. Made these for the second time last night. This time I cut the potatoes larger then recommended (some close to 1/2 inch). Used russetts in peanut oil (second time around for the oil) in a 12" cast iron. Wife had them for the first time. We both thought they were great. Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside (as fries should be IMO). Made the mistake of using ketchup on them (ok, but they would have been better served with cider vinegar).

                        I will never make fries again any other way. This is just too good and too simple to bother with anything else. Fries have gone from being a big production to a 'whenever I want them' thing.

                        1. I did a small batch in grapeseed oil and they were great. I disobeyed two rules: the potatoes were hand cut and somewhat uneven; I fried in a pan of already hot oil (maybe 300F), and I stirred 3 or 4 times.
                          These were really good, but I have another little used secret: my bag of potatoes has been in a root cellar (dark, 35F) for a month. This causes the potatoes to firm up and convert some starch to sugar, and that's good for crispy, sweet fries.

                          If I did not have a root cellar, I would rotate all my winter root vegs in the bottom of the fridge, so they get at least two weeks at 35F before cooking.

                          1. Hadn't made these in a long time, but made them again last week. Amazing. Russets cut about 1/4" thick in cold peanut oil in a cast iron skillet. Heat on med high and cook until nicely browned. They were excellent. Crusty on the outside, creamy on the inside and NOT greasy. So easy...

                            1. I read once that to make spring rolls very crispy and keep them crispy that you should start them in cold oil - I tried this and it is absolutely true - i can't imagine how much oil they absorb and it only works if you have one batch.

                              1. Made these last night, but this time I thought I would try sweet potatoes and see how they fared (I usually bake my sweet potato fries, but my oven's been cranky lately). It worked great - I drained the fries (cut about a half inch thick, fried in peanut oil) when they looked done to me. Tasted great, not greasy. They weren't as crisp as my oven-baked ones, but they were quite good and my non-sweet-potato-loving spouse ate them right up.

                                1. This recipe appeared in the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated magazine. What was really interesting is that they had the fries analyzed by a lab for fat content vs. traditional fries. It turns out the cold oil method produced fries with 1/3 less fat (the article explains the science behind this). Fascinating...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: bnemes3343

                                    The Cooks Ill article also advises using a medium starch potato (e.g. Yukon Gold) rather than the usual russets which make the best high-temp oil fries. The reason they gave is that in hot oil the spud's starch granules swell and burst during frying making a crispy coating. But with the cold start too many granules are bursting, potentially resulting in a thicker crust which becomes leathery in some cases.

                                    One time I made them I tossed in a few sweet potato (1/4-3/8" thick pieces) w/ the Yukons and the sw potatoes came out crispier and delicious. The next time using just swt potatoes - not cripsy at all?! Still yummy tho'. I know they have a lot of water in them and I get diff results oven roasting too (for crispiness that is).

                                    I used duck fat, topped off with peanut oil, topped off with a 2 or 3 tbsp of olive oil - only b/c I was low on everything, w a piece of onion tossed in for flavour; it was a heady brew. In the Steingarten iteration of JR's method (about 10 yrs ago), he cautions not to let the oil go above 180. Does anyone know if this is to keep the oil from breaking down? I reused it anyway . . . stored it in the fridge; smelled fine.

                                    HarryH: thanks for the spring roll tip. I was wondering about other applications. I LOVE Viet spring rolls (esp. from the Hot Sour Sweet and Salty book), and now I can have easily them!

                                    Last point: the Cooks Ill article assumes that they are about 1/3 lower in fat than regular hot-oil fries b/c less moisture is lost during frying so less oil gets absorbed. Might this be useful in thinking abt potato/vegetable type?

                                    1. re: bnemes3343

                                      Can you elaborate on the science behind this?


                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        CG sums up the science in her last point. Because the oil starts cold, less water is lost by the potatoes. And lost water is replaced by oil. So by the time the potato starts to get hot in the center, the outside has a crust. Less water lost = less oil absorbed.