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Cook's Illustrated "Cold Oil" French Fries

I just read about Cook's Illustrated "cold oil" french fry method where the raw potatoes are added to room tempperature oil, brough to heat and fried for 20-25 minutes for a one-step, no fuss french fry.

Has anyone ever tried this? Thoughts?

I am glossing over the method somewhat, but not much. It is one of the shortest recipes I have seen in the magazine and I am eager to give it a try.

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  1. The original idea came from famed chef Joël Robuchon. I have tried this recipe and it is important not to stir. Its a great recipe if you only need a smaller amount of fries. In my family they didn't last long. Supposedly this causes less oil to be soaked up into the fry. Try it out.

    1. There have been a few threads on this. It's great - I only ever make fries this way now. Uses less oil than traditional methods and the fries stay crisp.

      1. Sounds similar to what my mom used to do: she'd cut up potatoes, throw them on a cookie sheet, add a generous quantity of oil and coat them thoroughly, toss them in the oven, and turn it to 450F. Turn once after 20-30 minutes, and you're done. They weren't quite like regular french fries, but they were absolutely delicious, and in some respects, I liked them considerably better. I make them at home whenever I have a craving and usually over regular fries. They're even good for poutine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vorpal

          My mom used to do this too (maybe it's a Canadian monm-thing) but actually these are nothing like this: You put the potatoes in cold deep fat and heat them in it until they're "boiling", then keep them cooking until done (about 20 mins? total). Works very well indeed.

        2. Here's an informative thread from a couple of years ago, before CI covered the method: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/476770

          3 Replies
          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Have you tried these, Caitlin? Highly recommended.

            1. re: buttertart

              I haven't tried them yet; fries are something I tend to only have out, as a strategy for limiting my consumption. But I'd like to try it someday, so I keep the thread I linked filed away in my mind.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                A good strategy. I think if I were forced to pick one food in the world to live on it would be french fries.

          2. I wonder if it would work for, say, fried chicken?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cicely

              I would not try it with chicken. Raw potatoes are mostly water, so they won't soak up much oil while heating up, but anything breaded or battered will come out really greasy.

              1. re: Cicely

                It wouldn't work at all for chicken, unless you cut your pieces quite small, as in one-inch cubes. At those temperatures, you could never get the middle of whole, bone-in pieces cooked with a crispy outside.

              2. I've had mixed results starting with cold oil. I think it might have something to do with the amount of oil, amount of potatoes, and how hot your burner is. So if it doesn't work the first time, try some variations. At any rate, it's so much easier than double frying.

                1. Ernie, I've done the "Robuchon" method many times. It works. I'm not sure that they take up less oil but they don't seem any more oily than standard methods. They are not cooked twice so that may account for some of the difference. Most home cooks don't do the twice fry anyway. Keys for success, don't cut them too thick, about 3/8 to 1/2 inch is your target thickness. Soak in cold water to remove starch. Dry very well. Cook in single layer in about 1" of oil.