French fries at home

French fries at home

My girlfriend likes to tell me that if there’s a study out there that tells you to do something, I would probably do it. She’s right, I love hearing about studies. It doesn’t exist yet, but there’s a study that tells you that french fries will beget world peace. Man, I’m telling you, you want world peace more than you think you know. Not only is world peace delicious, it’s kind of addictive. Once you learn how to do it, you want to make it over and over again, until your whole apartment just reeks of world peace. Last week I wanted to learn how to make french fries because who doesn’t want a kitchen with a pot full of three hundred degree corn oil? I do, and so do you. You just don’t know it yet. When you learn how to make french fries at home, you’re gonna be so happy you’ll want to double dutch.

There’s a lot of different recipes out there for french fries. Jonathan sent along some info from The Man Who Ate Everything and that was a good start. But there’s plenty of good information out there not from books. The web is a great place to find free information on how to do your own french fries. Before you get started, I highly suggest a thermometer so you can keep track of oil temperatures, and a cast iron pot because it retains heat better than normal metal pots.

Basically most people/recipes tell you to pick a type of potato that you like (Russet), and then fry it twice. Some people will tell you that it’s important to soak the potatoes in cold water for a period of time. I don’t think that makes any difference at all in the taste. What I noticed when you soak the potatoes is that the fries change color differently. This happens because when you soak the potatoes, you have to do a good job of drying it before you deep fry it, otherwise it’s going to splash and bubble up like crazy. Depending on how dry each fry is, the water content on each individual fry is going to be different. This affects how fast the fry will be cooked, and how it dehydrates as it cooks. And the coloration of the fries will be different between fries and also sometimes on each individual fry.

So the thing to do is not to soak it, because then you won’t have to worry about drying it. Then the question is, how slow do you go? Some people say for a two-step process, you fry the first step at around 300. Some people say to do the first step around 265. Either method works. If you fry it at 300, you’re looking at around 3 minutes of frying time. If it’s around 265, probably around 6 or 7 minutes. This first step of frying is simply to cook the potato all the way through. At the end of this process, the fries will be cooked through, and limp. They will be golden and yellow, and you know when it’s done when you start to notice a hint of browning on the fries. You don’t want that to happen.

On to step two. Here, almost everyone universally favors a high temperature fry at 375 degrees and you’re just looking for color at this point. Most suggest around three minutes, but in my experience, you never even need that much time. The fries were cooked in step one, and this time you’re just looking for that crispy caramelization to occur on the outside of the fries.

Then as it attains the color you want, and you might want them slightly less brown than mine… you take them out of the oil. Drain it on a paper towel, and season liberally with salt and pepper. The french fries should be salty and crunchy. The middle should be cooked through completely, and hopefully with a soft creamy consistency that sings of potatoes. Here’s something else I realized… and that is you probably don’t want to cut your fries too thin. A slightly thicker cut allows for that potatoey taste that sometimes isn’t in fries. And thinner fries are more difficult to fry correctly, as they burn faster. I wish there was some special potato cutter that cut fries in a special way so you have more than four edges. The edges are the crispiest part of the fries, and if you have a special cut of fries that increases the number of edges, you’ll increase your crispy factor. No idea if such an invention exists though.

The oil should be good enough for at least one more frying. You can just let it cool and store it in a cool place in your apartment. Make sure there’s no huge debris left in the oil. Each time you fry, the oil deteriorates, so at one point you really have to just discard the oil. Oh yea, the type of oil is important too. I used corn oil, some people like peanut oil, and you can also use canola oil if you want. Or sunflower oil if you can find that. This is all a matter of taste. I don’t think corn oil departs any corn-ish flavors, and it has a high smoke point. I think when oil smokes, that’s when the oil particles are breaking down and that’s when your oil starts becoming useless for future frying sessions. So pick the oil you think has the most neutral taste, and also has a high smoke point.

You might wonder, how to get rid of all this oil. I’m not sure. Usually in my house, there’s a grease bucket. We freeze the grease bucket, then throw it out with the trash when it’s full. Does anyone else do this? I’m sure this is killing the planet later on when there’s a huge tub of grease out in a waste dump… but you definitely don’t want to just pour this down a drain. It’s going to clog probably. If you go eat take out at the Woorijip Noodle Bar, you’ll love the extra large take-out containers. It lets you store a lot of oil. So save the take-out container as a grease bucket if you want.

I made french fries like four times last week. Each time, I was fat and happy. Those suckers are just so addictive right out of the ‘fryer’. It makes you realize that limp fries are just lame. You should never accept limp fries. It takes only a week to figure out how to make fresh, crispy fries. Don’t fuck around with limp fries. Life’s too short to waste calories on shitty fries. Don’t do it. Make your own or go somewhere that can make ’em nice and crispy!

Posted by Danny on April 27, 2009 at 4:58 am

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