Simply Perfect French Fries

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If you read the print version of the Exponent, you know that I’m currently on a potato jag. And as popular as potatoes are in most any form, the most ubiquitously and unanimously loved version is undoubtedly the French fry. In general, fries are something that we tend to enjoy in restaurants; the production of deep-frying can be difficult to replicate in home kitchens, and the results often fall short. Until now.

Some time ago, I heard a snippet of an interview on NPR in which a cook was describing a “cold oil” method of cooking fries. I never did learn the identity of the chap or what his culinary credentials were, but to this day I feel indebted to him when I make these spectacular frites.

Starting the potatoes in oil that has not yet been heated enables them to poach first, eliminate their water content, absorb less oil and therefore take on less fat. This method also reduces splatter and lessens the chances of the cook (even a clumsy one like myself) getting burned. Oh, and did I mention, the result is delicious?

Here’s the technique:

Fool Proof French Fries

Serves 4

6 cups oil (canola, vegetable or peanut)

6 medium potatoes (about 2 ½ lbs)

Lots of salt

Cut potatoes in strips, approximately 1/4 -1/2 inch wide. (Peel if you must; I do not).

Place potatoes and oil in a large Dutch oven, cover, and heat over medium.

Allow the potatoes to boil gently in the oil for about 30 minutes. Check them occasionally and gently scrape the bottom to prevent sticking.

When potatoes are done to a golden crispness, remove them from the oil, drain on paper towels or brown paper, douse them generously with salt and enjoy.

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