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french fries boiled in oil

I saw a post on a food blog that called for potato wedges dropped into cold canola oil, then brought to a boil. I want to try this, but am a bit anxious about boiling oil on my stove top. Is it safe? Have you made fries using this method before?

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  1. that would be deep frying by starting with cold oil -- which I think would leave you with nasty little grease sponges.

    Have your oil hot before cooking, especially potatoes, as it sears the outside, and the moisture on the inside steams itself to perfection.

    27 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Couldn't agree more. Hot oil is the way forward if you don't want them to be dripping grease. I'd boil them in water first until they're soft and then fry them. Actually, the best results I've had (if you have a thermometer which I'd recommend if you're heating oil in a pan) is: -

      -Boiled in salted water until soft enough for a skewer to go through easily
      -Drained and patted dry
      -Fried for 5 minutes in oil heated to 130c/260f
      -Removed fromt he oil and drained on paper towels
      -At this point you can keep them in the fridge for up to a few days and when you want to eat them cook in oil at 180c/350f for 3 to 4 mins
      -Drain again on kitchen paper and salt to taste

      That works for wedges or chips (or fries if that's your lingo) and should leave you with a fluffy inside and a crispy outside.

      Here in the UK I'd recommend Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes but I'm not sure about the US, the Russet possibly seems like the closest.



      P.S. sorry about the essay, got a bit carried away - probably because it's about time for lunch and I'm hungry :)

      1. re: litrelord

        I only deep fry about 3 times a year, and can't remember the last time I made fries.


        Belgian frites are pretty commonly held up as the gold standard of fries/chips -- and they've been famous for them for a few centuries now. They double fry...so if I were the frying kind, that's the way I'd make them.

        (with a serious tip of the hat to good chip shops. Pity you cant wrap them in newsprint any more.)

        1. re: sunshine842

          3 times a year is very sensible. We go through phases in out household because we have a deep fryer with a tub to drain (and filter) the oil so it stays in the cupboard for months unitl I get the urge for chips. Once it's back out of the cupboard again greed dictates my food and we end up having 3 dinners in a week accompanied with chips until it's stowed away again.

          Tried a home-made deep fried mars bar the other day and that worked surprisingly well - a tad cloying for sure but good fun.

          The double-fry is good but I still think for perfection you need to boil them first. I'm happy to go through this small effort for the result although I'll be trying the boil from cold oil at some point.

          1. re: litrelord

            The same result as the boil-fry-fry can be achieved by soaking the cut potatoes in not-too- cold water for an hour or so (in fact, they can sit in the water for a few hours) before doing the double fry.

            1. re: MGZ

              That's good to know. I'd always considered the boil stage as going some way to cooking them but this would be covered by the first fry wouldn't it.

              Thanks for the tip.

              1. re: litrelord

                It removes excess starch. I learned this back in my lowercase days, having spent a couple summers making fries on the Boardwalk (nothing like smelling of peanut oil and the sea for ten to twelve weeks). The first fry was at 250f and the second at 350f. A cooling rest between the two was essential.

                1. re: MGZ

                  I believe one of the upsides of simmering the fries before the first frying is that it roughens up the surface a bit, making for a slightly better crispy exterior. If I'm going all out on making some fries, i simmer until cooked, sometimes poke many holes in the fries with a jaccard, and let them dry and cool uncovered in the refrigerator between each cooking step (this is the Blumenthal method I mentioned below).

                  I have soaked fries before to remove starch, it doesn't quite have the same effect - it helps if you're not boiling/simmering, but not quite the same. I never soaked them for an hour though.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    I par-cook potatoes before doing oven roasted for the reason. The increase in texture results in a crisper fry.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      It would seem the release of the starch is what causes the rougher surface.

                2. re: MGZ

                  sugar the water, till it's sugary but not to sweet to the touch. it helps

          2. re: sunshine842

            It's counterintuitive, I know, but it works like a charm. Raw potatoes aren't particularly absorbent, so they don't pick up much oil. By the time they start getting cooked, the pressure from the steam forming inside keeps the oil out. End result? Best. Fries. Ever.

            To the OP - follow a few tips and you'll be fine. First, don't fill the pan to the brim. Matter of fact, don't till it more than halfway. Second, soak the potatoes to get rid of excess starch, but make sure they're dry before you start. Not "water drained off" dry or "gave them a good flick" dry. Dry them carefully in a towel. Third, keep an eye on your oil temp. It's never been a problem for me (the fries are always done before the oil overheats), but if you see wisps of smoke forming, you need to turn down the burner ASAP. Finally, keep a lid for the pot handy. If you do get a conflagration, turn off the heat immediately and clap the lid on to smother the flames.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Thanks to you, Alan, this is how I've been doing it for a year or two. It works great.

              Oh, wait, I guess I could have just written "+1." Oh, wait, that's frowned upon :)

              PS: Did I mention that it works great :)

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Listen to alanbarnes. He knows of what he speaks.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Cooks Illustrated has a french fry recipe like this. It comes out surprisingly well.

                  1. re: joonjoon

                    Credit where credit is due - AFAIK Joel Robouchon was the first to advocate this method. Sometimes it gets attributed to CI, ATK, or even various individuals (eg, certain obnoxious chowhounds), but it was the French master chef who introduced it.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Hey Alan, in no way was I suggesting that CI was the first to advocate this method, rather just stating that they have a working recipe that I've used successfully. I'd guess that Robuchon wasn't the first man to try this method either.

                      1. re: joonjoon

                        I hear you. And agree with your guess. Just wanted to provide some attribution.

                      2. re: alanbarnes

                        In the video segment of the show on the ATK web site (linked to up-thread) they do attribute the "boiling in oil" method to Robuchon.

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      ditto: best. fries. evah.

                      it works for any thin cut potato and i confess i'm not super-serious about drying them before. works great anyway. they are a fabulous texture,of crisp outside with a tender airy inside, and there is almost no spattering of oil on the stove-top.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        thank you Alan. There is a food blogger who lives in our city and she is known to be a fantastic cook. She thought these made the most fantastic fries ever, so I had to try them. I appreciate the tips about drying them off well.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Problem with this technique, you cannot make several batches :)
                          Once you have done with the first batch, you must wait the oil to cool down.
                          Of course, you can use several fryer ... but you need more oil!

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          It works just fine. No grease sponges.

                          Nothing wrong with the traditional double frying method - it's still my preferred way to get ideal results (I also use some of Heston Blumenthal's tricks). But this is a nice effective way to make half decent fries a little more easily.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I love it too - but what Blumenthal tricks, you cooktease?

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I mentioned the method in a post above:

                              i simmer [fries in water] until cooked, poke many holes in the fries with a jaccard, and let them dry and cool uncovered in the refrigerator between each cooking step. The cooling/drying in the refrigerator in between steps really enhances the surface texture.
                              Here's a link:

                              I love the term 'cooktease' btw.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Aha, I had never heard of a jaccard so thanks for that. I have microwaved potatoes to be fried but hadn't cooked them or otherwise beaten up on them. Good to know it has a positive effect.
                                I'm rather fond of the term myself, thought it up one day but so have other people...

                          2. I haven't, but here's some info about it. Seems like a good method for home cooks.


                            1. I'm pretty sure the technique has been growing in popularity since America's Test Kitchen championed it.


                              Oh, and, get over the boiling oil anxiety. This technique seems to have been created with timid cooks in mind.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: MGZ

                                +1 - it was an interesting read and I have tried it. It worked well but I still prefer the "double fry" method. If I remember correctly according to ATK it worked best with Yukon Gold potatoes and not so well with russet . . . but double check me on that.

                                When doing ANY deep fry (cold or hot method) always have enough head room in the pan after the food has been added to the oil to prevent any boil overs. Once you do it a few times it isn't so scary.

                                1. re: thimes

                                  Russets work well too. Good tips from you and AB about safety when frying

                                2. re: MGZ

                                  Dear MGZ,

                                  Please give me the recipe. The link you have given here they wants the membership . Appreciate if you give me the recipe.


                                  1. re: susmita

                                    I'm afraid I don't have it. Perhaps, Mr. Barnes could provide you with clear instructions?

                                    1. re: susmita

                                      Just register with the site, it is free. It does not ask you for anything. If you are paranoid or something, create a new email and use that to register. Easy! :)

                                      1. re: susmita

                                        Hi, Susmita -- I've been wondering how all your cooking experiments have been going!

                                        Click here -- it's on this page, but this link will take you directly to alanbarnes' instructions of how to make chips this way.


                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Hi Sunshine,

                                          How are you ? I am gathering knowledge becoz you are best for french fry, cakes, etc etc. I realized that you have much knowledge in cooking than us. Honestly. I wonder if you have done research in cooking. I learnt a lot from yours that I had never thought of. AND it is interesting to read the discussions on cooking. My cake is not burning now. In addition, my french fry never crispy ,so I thought to get some advice from chowhound...

                                          1. re: susmita

                                            Dear Sunshine,

                                            I think Mcdonalds, KIFC, BFC they oven fries the potatoes. That is why they are crispy than ours and not oily at all. What do you think?


                                            1. re: susmita

                                              In the US and Europe, McDonald's and KFC deep-fry the potatoes -- in Bangladesh, it *might* be different because they use beef products in the oil here, which is not fitting with Hindu diet guidelines.

                                              If you can find a thermometer that will tell you the temperature of the oil, that would be the best, but my grandmother used to drop a piece of bread into the oil about 1"/2.5cm square. If it was brown in 1 minute, then the oil is at a good temperature for making fries. This site has more details:

                                              You*can* make fries in the oven, though -- dry them well, toss them with a light oil (peanut or vegetable are good), add salt and pepper, and then bake at 475F/240C (as high as your oven will go!) until brown and crispy. This discussion will tell you more:

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                Dear sunshine,

                                                Thank you. Stay all fine.


                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                            Dear Sunshine,

                                            Thank you . I got it now.


                                              1. re: susmita

                                                Hi, Susmita -- my grandmother taught me to make fried chicken, so I don't actually *have* a recipe. (I'm afraid I can't help at all with the General Tso or Firecracker chicken, because I've never made them!)

                                                She taught me to dip the chicken into a mixture of egg and milk (or water) and then into flour to which we added salt and pepper and a little paprika. Shake off the excess flour, then fry at 375F/190C oil until brown and crispy-- 5 minutes on each side or until it's done. I have never deep-fried chicken - I fry it in about an inch (2-3cm) of oil in a very big pan.

                                        2. The Joel Robuchon method for making french fries has been discussed on CH in the past before ATK championed it as their preferred method. Contrary to what some assume will result the fries are excellent and have no more grease than traditionally cooked fries.

                                          As someone who has used this technique I can assure you that it's safer than dropping cold cut potatoes into 360 degree oil. There is a lot less splattering using the cold oil method. Your anxiety about boiling oil on your stove top is no different from any other stove top frying but in this case there is less splattering so I will say it's safer.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. I have used ATK's methoc and was satisfied. Less work than double fry.

                                            1. "Boiling oil" is, technically, a misnomer. Your oil will reach its smoking point before it reaches its boiling point and, if you heat it to it's boiling point, it is VERY likely to flash into a fire that you certainly don't want; homes are frequently destroyed when this mistake is made.
                                              What actually occurs when starting cooked foods in cold oil is, as the oil heats, it gradually heats the food. The process eventually develops steam from the water in the foods and produces bubbles that appear to be boiling oil. Starting foods in cold oil does help reduce the violent bubbling of oil that occurs when cold foods are placed into hot oil but the result of an oily and often soggy finished product is unpleasant to eat.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: todao

                                                I've done the ATK/alanbarnes method many many times. Nothing oily or soggy about it. Just the perfect fry. Awesomeness.

                                                Now, if only the fryer didn't stink up the house for hours and sometimes days....

                                                1. re: todao

                                                  Starting an absorbent piece of food in cold oil will **always** result in a greasy, soggy finished product. Onion rings, battered fish, tempura, hush puppies, even par-cooked potatoes - you have to start in hot oil or you'll end up with a disgusting mess. Raw potatoes are the only exception I know to this rule.

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    Have you tried this with any foods besides raw potatoes? That's not a rhetorical question.
                                                    I know that frying in too-cold oil will lead to a soggy texture, but I'm not so sure that starting in cold oil will do the same thing if the oil is eventually heated to proper frying temperature.

                                                    Raw potatoes cut into fries seem to cook perfectly in their middle in the time it takes the oil to heat up to proper crispy frying temperature (~300-375 deg f, depending on the food being fried). That is seldom true of other foods - tempura, battered fish, buffalo wings etc. But i suspect that the problem with these foods is that the oil wouldn't be hot enough by the time the food is otherwise fully cooked. In other words, I suspect crispiness vs sogginess is determined almost exclusively the final or peak oil temperature. It stands to reason also that batter may present additional challenges to the cold oil method just in terms of adhering to the underlying food properly.

                                                    But then again, I haven't tried starting in cold oil with anything except potatoes.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      Not intentionally. But I have had a few epic deep-frying failures from putting in too much food, using oil that isn't hot enough, or using a burner with output insufficient for the temperature to recover quickly. Batter soaks up warm oil like a sponge, resulting in disgustingly greasy food. One can extrapolate that the results would be even worse starting with room-temp oil.

                                                  2. re: todao

                                                    yes. unless it's a large cauldron intended for witches and/or heretics, you'll never get to the fire/flash/exploding home stage of hot oil.

                                                  3. Oil does not boil, the water from the potatoes is boiling.

                                                    It is the method to use if you don't want to blanch and then fry, or fry twice. Easier for home cooks without kitchen stewards.

                                                    1. I can vouch for the one step method. If I recall correctly, I first learned of it from Jeffry Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. I forget who he learned it from, but from some posts it seems it's not a recent development. It does take a bit of trial and error before you get it right, so don't be discouraged if the first batch is less than perfect.

                                                      1. I usually cook the wedges on low temperature. The potato should color very slightly and be cooked inside. Then I chill them in the fridge for 5 minutes. I turn on the heat of the oil in the mean time. At last step, fry the wedges in very hot oil until totally golden. Super crisp outside and fluffy inside. Usually takes 25 minutes total to make.