How to fry a potato –

by

This will give your food Nazi fits. Tough. They’re good.

OK, what us American types call French Fries probably came from Belgium somewhere in the 18th century, give a take a decade or two. Everybody in the world has had a fry, just about. Most of the ones you get from the fast food joints are just gross. Properly prepared, they a culinary delight.

To properly prepare these little delights takes a bit more effort than is apparent on the surface. So, get your best cooking cap on and let’s go get ‘em. For starters, use good grade potatoes. My suggestions are Idahos, Russets, or Yukon Golds. Whack them up into ¼” strips. You can skin them or not as your taste dictates. I like the skins on. Tradition in this country is peeled. You can also make them a bit thinner for shoestring style, or thicker for “home fries” style. To my taste thin is better than thick. Your mileage may vary.

Once you’ve got them chopped up you need to move fairly quickly or plunge them into an ice bath. Potatoes left exposed to air deteriorate rapidly. If you do the ice water soak, dry them well on a paper towel just before cooking. Water and hot oil is a no good combo.

You can use a cast iron deep fryer or an electric skillet. The electric skillet is a bit easier to control temperature. If you use a fryer then use a thermometer. Temperature is critical. Put enough oil to make a deep fry possible, but leave lots of room at the top, it will foam up when the spuds are added. Now – what kind of oil is up to you, you just need a smoke point less than 400°. Peanut oil is good, or any other tasteless, healthy oil. Now if you are ready to shoot the food Nazi and want just glorious taste, use lard or beef fat, which was what was originally used. These will be the most wonderful taste that you ever had. Your cholesterol doesn’t go up quite as far as you may think if you cook them right.

Now get that oil to a steady 325° and ease small batches in. Don’t load so much that they stick together or lower the temperature of the oil. Cook somewhere around 3 minutes or so. When they get limp and just begin to turn a light blonde color pull them out with a slotted spoon or kitchen spider and lay them on paper towels or paper sacks to drain. Do this 10 minutes to 2 hours ahead of time.

When you are ready to finish, jack the temp up to 350°. Once again cook in small     batches. This time you are aiming for a golden brown. Add salt, pepper, dill, or whatever spices you like the second you take them from the pan to the draining paper. If you’ve done everything right they will be light, non-greasy, crisp outside and airy inside with a wonderful taste.

A really good go-with is to melt a stick of butter, a couple of cloves of smashed and chopped garlic, with whatever herbs you like. Dill or parsley come to mind. Just combine and heat until the flavors come together. Don’t fry the stuff. Anyway, drizzle this over the fries just before serving. No, its doesn’t make them too greasy if you got them cooked right to start with.

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One Response to “How to fry a potato –”

  1. johnpaulstevenson Says:

    Nice article. I too, am a advocate of the properly cooked pomme frite. You definetly have the twice cooking secret, but for the first cooking process, try turning the oil down to 180-200′. Starch begins to convert to sugar between these temps. Your ideal potato is fully cooked with no color. When a potato cooks, it gives off steam, which makes the crispy extorior from the second cooking diminish much quicker. The more you can cook the potato in the first round the better.

    I also agree about the shoestring potato. You get much more crisp, and that is what makes a good fry.

    Cheers

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