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Jun 26, 2009 05:46 AM

French Fries made at home - tricks and tips

At this time of year, DH and I are usually in Chicago making our annual pilgrimage and chowing our way through the city, but this year due to job restraints we couldn't make the trip. To ease the pain, I'm making Italian Beef Sanwitches and French Fries for dinner tonight as a surprise.

I made the sanwitches and fries before a few months back, but I was curious if you have any tricks and tips for perfect homemade french fries? I liked what I made but they could definitely be improved.

I par fry the fries, but I wonder if you have any other suggestions.

We like the fries cut very small, matchstick size.

Any advice or perfected methodologies would be appreciated. I thank you and the sanwitches thank you!

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  1. Double Fry, and don't let your oil fall below 360*

    Have Fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Uncle Bob

      Great recipe. These always disappear as fast as I can make them. No frying keeps cleanup easy , and no oil to dispose of.

    2. In one of his books Jeffery Steingarten suggests Joel Robuchon uses a method for making fries at home. The method involves using russet potatoes cut into 3/8" sticks, washed and dried and placed in a single layer in cold oil using a cast iron skillet. The cold oil is brought to heat.

      I have used this method and it work surprisingly well. The fries seem no more greasy than when dropped in high temp oil and as a side benefit there is no splatter so clean up is a snap.

      12 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        Cook's Illustrated tested fries and chose that as the best method - said the fries used less fat, even. Can go to CI or America's Test Kitchen to see the article.

        1. re: bayoucook

          Yes, i saw this article and tried it the other day - amazing! So much easier than par frying, and just as light and crispy of an end product. Best advice - salt just after removing from oil and toss to coat in a large stainless steel bowl.

          1. re: jenhen2

            This is the only way I cook them now. It works brilliantly.

          2. re: bayoucook

            I didn't know CI tested this method. Good to know they found the same think I did. Goes against everything I learned about frying but the proof is in the fiy.

            1. re: bayoucook

              Cook's Illustrated said that the Cold Oil French Fry Method works best with Yukon Gold Potatoes. Russet Potatoes made fries with a hard crust.

            2. re: scubadoo97

              How much oil? Just enough to cover?

              I made oven-fries the other night by tossing the potato strips in melted bacon fat and salt, and then baking at 450 for about 20 minutes. They tasted great, but they didn't have a satisfying texture.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I guess I don't measure the oil but enough the cover is a good rule. Ruth, I do oven fries more often than deep fried and when I think about it the amount of oil I recover from deep frying is as least as much as I coat items to be oven roasted. I usually use 1-2 Tbs of oil to coat. Granted some is left in the bottom of the bowl when they are dumped on the sheet pan. I think for the most part I'm fooling myself thinking oven fries are healthier than deep fried.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Yeah, and when you think about it, there's probably no more fat in french fries than there is in a baked potato you've put butter and/or sour cream on. I make oven fries simply because I'm not comfortable with deep frying as a technique -- thus, the appeal of this method.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    >>"there's probably no more fat in french fries than there is in a baked potato you've put butter and/or sour cream on"<<

                    Of course all bets are off when you use your fries as an aioli delivery device...

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      LOL. Fortunately, I don't like mayo/aioli, or I would be in trouble.

                      If properly seasoned I like my fries plain with nothing to dampen their crispness, but otherwise I like ketchup. Then one day I was eating fries in a Mexican-American diner that had salsa on the table -- I dipped my fries in the salsa and was shocked at how delicious it was, and then shocked that apparently no one else had thought of it -- it's not like the leap from ketchup to salsa is that big!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Another tasty variation - fortify (or replace) the ketchup with Sriracha sauce.

            3. One restaurant famous for their fries (name escapes me but recently they were mentioned twice for their fries on Food Network) soaks the cut fries for a day before blanching them in oil til they are soft with no color yet to prepare for service. As they receive orders they drop the blanched fries in the fryer to crisp and color them. They use sea salt only to finish the fries. They look good, but I have never tried them.

              I use the same method (except the soaking) at home and they come out great in my opinion.

              I plan to make some fries incorporating the soaking into the procedure next time to see if I notice a discernible difference.


              3 Replies
                1. re: smtucker

                  Smtucker that is indeed the restaurant I meant.

                  Also I recently used this method over the weekend for the french fries I added to my Lomo Saltado. As Jayt90 stated 24 hour soak is not home friendly. So I used the rice rinsing method with my fries. Rinsed in cold water repeatedly until the water was at least visually free of starch (not milky). They came out great.

                2. re: Foog

                  Soaking and blanching are convenient preps for busy restaurants.
                  I have done this but there is little starch run off after the first 20 minutes soaking.

                  24 hours soaking, in successive water changes, followed by blanching, and refrigerating until the final fry, is a time consuming and unnecessary process at home. Like making a Keller quiche.
                  At home, the Robuchon method has been fine for me, although I start in warm oil with the heat on high until 350 is reached (about 10 minutes).
                  I try to get thin-skinned round potatoes rather than Rusetts, which require peeling.
                  Kennebec is a good fry variety.

                  I use fresh oil every time this way. When the pan is just large enough for the amount of fries, it is not extravagant, and avoids the use of old oil.

                3. I've developed a variation on the Robuchon method that works well. Peel and cut your potatoes into batons (3/8" is a good place to start, but size isn't critical). Soak them in cold water for 10 or 20 minutes to remove excess starch. Rinse. Dry thoroughly. When you think they're dry enough, dry them some more. (I put them in a salad spinner, then dry them with a kitchen towel.)

                  Put the potatoes in a heavy pot with plenty of headroom. The potatoes don't have to fit in a single layer, but you don't want them to fill the pot more than halfway. A third is better. Pour in your favorite oil - grapeseed, peanut, refined olive (not EVOO), whatever - just enough to cover the potatoes. Yes, you're starting in room-temperature oil. Put the pot over high heat.

                  When things are getting good and bubbly, stir occasionally so you can keep an eye on how brown the stuff on the bottom is getting. Once the fries are the color you want them, remove from the oil, toss with a little fine sea salt, and serve.

                  I was skeptical that this method would work, and assumed that the fries would come out greasy. Nope. Works like a charm, and the fries are crispy on the outside and perfectly creamy inside. Delish. And whoever has KP will thank you - you get far less grease spatter than with the traditional method.

                  1. I use a modern deep-fryer with a cover so splatter's not an issue. I'm intrigued by this "start with room temp oil" method - I'll have to try it in the deep fryer! But up to now I've had reliably perfect results using the traditional double fry method - and like in a restaurant, I find that the fries can sit for quite a while after the first frying session, so this is convenient when I have several dishes going. For steak frites, for example, I give the potatoes the first fry before the steaks hit the grill, then when the steaks are done I let them rest a few minutes while I give the potatoes the second quick fry to crisp and brown them. The timing works out perfectly.

                    One other tip: in addition to salt, add just a pinch of finely chopped fresh rosemary. I don't even like rosemary for the most part, it tastes turpentiney to me, but for some reason on fries it's heavenly!