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September 10, 2007 / Tony

French Fries

Admit it, you love french fries.  Even the lowliest french fries in the world retain some magical quality that satisfies some deep longing in our soul.  And great french fries, well, they create an experience of pure joy.  You know what I’m talking about: the creamy interior that retains the essence of potato, the crispy and almost crackly outside, the slightly burned ends, and the saltiness.  It’s really a beautiful thing. 

The best thing about french fries is that you make them cheaply, easily, and really well at home.  Here’s a method I just picked up from America’s Test Kitchen.

French Fries

Russet potatoes

about 1 T vegetable oil

about 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper (optional)

Notice here that there are no exact amounts in this recipe.  Just make as many fries as you want.  But, as a general rule, guess about 1 medium potato per person (and maybe a little more because they are so good). 

Start by slicing the potatoes into roughly 1/2 by 1/2 spears.  You can peel the potatoes first if you like but I prefer the texture difference given by the skin.  (If you don’t peel, wash the potatoes thoroughly before cutting.)   Then give them a 10 minute soak in icy cold water.  Drain and then put them in a microwable safe bowl and coat them with a little bit of vegetable oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then microwave for about 7 minutes or until the potatoes are just limp. 

Meanwhile, you should have been preparing your deep fat fryer.  A commercially available fryer is fine or you can just use a big, heavy pot and a thermometer on the stove.  Whatever method you use, preheat the oil to 350 degrees and then place an acceptable amount of fries in the oil.  Don’t put too many in at a time-1) you could overflow the fryer/pot and have a big, dangerous mess and 2) Too many fries will drop the temperature of oil too quickly and result in oily fries.  (One note, if you have a good fryer that can quickly regain any heat loss after food is added, only preheat the oil to 325 degrees in this step.  The first fry is supposed to be a gentle fry to par-cook the fries.  I put 350 degrees in the directions because with the amount of oil I used, it worked out well because with the temperature drop after adding the fries, it was about 320 degrees.)  Cook until just a little bit golden and take them out to drain.  Repeat until all of the fries have been cooked this way.  Here’s what they should look like:


Now, you can move on to the second fry.  Preheat the oil to 370 degrees now and add an acceptable amount of fries.  Fry until golden brown and crispy.  Drain and then immediately season with Kosher salt and, if you want, cracked black pepper.  (I like that a lot.)  Serve immediately.   Here’s the finished product:


And here they are with a burger I whipped up:





Leave a Comment
  1. Elle / Sep 12 2007 12:57 pm

    If you want the perfect french fry try using rice bran oil-smoke point 490 and it’s healthy!


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