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Homemade french fries without a deep fryer, what's my best vessel?

Okay so I want to learn how to make some really good french fries.

I'll be following the instructions here: http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/05/...

I have the Pectinex SP-L, 20 lbs of russet potatoes, 5L of canola oil, and an iron will.

What I don't have is a professional deep fry machine... or any fry machine for that matter. Just an electric stove.

My options are:

- Stock pot
- Wok
- Deep coated cast iron fry pan
- Thin tall pot designed for deep frying
- Dutch oven

I don't need to make large quantities. I've included pictures of my options. I'm really quite confused as to what will work best, mostly concerned with bringing the oil back up to temperature after dropping the potatoes in.

I'm not sure if the thin bottomed wok would be best, or something with a thick bottom?

Or perhaps the thick bottomed cast iron pan or the dutch oven, since it's wider so the fries have room to spread out more?

 
 
 
 
 
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  1. I think the wok and the skillet are too short. The dutch oven might be fine for very small batches. You need enough depth to fit enough oil for it to qualify as deep frying (food should be surrounded by oil on all side and not touching the bottom) plus room for the food, plus room for the bubbing up that happens when you add something damp to hot oil - I'd say 8-10". So the two taller pots are probably best, if you can fill one about halfway with oil. Do you have a spider or something to scoop the fries out with? Have fun and be safe.

    1. The dutch oven. In small batches. It will retain heat, which will help to maintain a constant temp. Be careful! I always said that when I was deep frying, no children and no pets in the kitchen!!! Hint for frying: Throw a couple of popcorn kernels into the heating oil; they will remind you that you are heating oil when they pop, and they will pop at about 350 degrees, which will help you to determine when the correct cooking temp is hit.

      5 Replies
        1. re: sandylc

          I agree with the dutch oven, and what a great tip about the popcorn!

          1. re: sandylc

            Or you could use a thermometer. It would save the oil splatter when the kernel pops. I have the same DO and use that all the time for deep frying, I don't like the thin pots for this use.

            1. re: Dave5440

              Honestly, I have found popcorn to be more reliable than most thermometers! Placement of the thermometer tip can be clumsy and imprecise. And the popcorn doesn't splatter when it is in deep oil. It can be surprising, though! (A good thing when you don't want to forget that you're heating oil!)

              1. re: sandylc

                I wouldn't rely on popcorn, there's enough unpopped kernels for me to rely on that and if you get a good quality thermometer meant for the task it isn't akward and far more reliable. Also what do you do once it's popped? Do you keep putting more in so you know you are maintaining 350?

          2. You could also try cooking them at a lower temperature, per Joel Robuchon. I copied this paraphrase from another hound (forgot to save the name, sorry):

            "french fries by joel robuchon via america's test kitchen:

            2 pounds of 1/4 " planks of yukon gold potatoes, put into
            room temp dutch oven, pour in
            1 quart peanut oil (plus 1/4 C bacon grease -- or duck fat)
            heat to rolling boil (around 300 degrees) and do not disturb at all for 15 minutes.
            after 15 minutes, gently dislodge any fries stuck on bottom.
            let cook for 20 more minutes (i think it was 20).

            remove, drain on towel, salt. munch a bunch.

            ~~~~~~
            science guy says they absorb less fat at 300 than cooking at 375, because of the role of water displacement. the higher the temp, the more water is displaced in the taters, the more oil goes into the taters. this is not really time dependent. cool, huh?"

            1. My 70 year old cast iron skillet (the deep, "chicken fryer" one) makes really great fries...crispy, light, and delicious.
              Grapeseed, Olive, and Rice Bran oil are all great oils great to use. When I feel decadent and want the real flavor of traditional fries (or chips) , I'll occasionally do a batch in good old Lard (or one of the above oils with some Lard added).
              Canola, Corn, and Soy oil are probably the worst choices for making fries.

              5 Replies
              1. re: The Professor

                Professor, where in tarnation do you get Rice Bran oil? I mean really? Never heard of it. Help please. Is lard also known as Manteca?

                1. re: iL Divo

                  You can find it on amazon.com for one. Very neutral in flavor. It's also really great for high temp cooking, since it has such a high smoke point. I use it to sear off foods where I want to get a deep brown crust but not cook the center any more than it has already been cooked.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    If you can find unhydrogenated lard, that is where the difference is. Good lard is unfortunately quite expensive, and very difficult to find, even online. I have not tried it, but leaf lard (from around the pig's organs) is supposedly the best for deep frying.

                    "Manteca" is just Spanish for lard (and a brand name).

                  2. re: The Professor

                    I thought olive oil had low smoke point. or is it only for evoo?

                    1. re: Monica

                      Smoke points for Extra virgin - 406 Regular - 460 Light - 468

                  3. Are you going to double fry them?