The Perfect French Fry
Anyone who has ever attempted to make a french fry at home from scratch knows just how difficult it can be. You often end up with fries that are overcooked on the outside, yet somehow more chewy than crispy. Most recipes tell you to do two separate frying steps, one to cook the fry and one to crisp it. That’s way too much work. I’ve figured out a way that’s just as good but a lot easier.
First, peel (optional) and cut your potatoes into whatever fry shape it is you like. We’re fans of the thick-cut kind. Put them into a bowl of cold water while you work (important). Once you’re done, let the potatoes sit in the cold water for about 15-20 minutes. This is going to get a bunch of starch off of them.
Drain the potatoes, put them in a pot, and cover with water. That’s right: you’re going to boil those spuds. This will get them cooked so that the frying step is just to get them crispy. You’ll want to boil them to very well done. If you spear them with a fork and can pick them up easily without worrying about them breaking apart, they aren’t done yet.
While this is going, get your pot of oil started. I recommend using a large stock pot (you have two, right?) with about 2-3 inches of oil in the bottom. In my 8-quart model, that’s about a quart of oil. You want at least a foot of clearance from the top of the pot. Anything less than this and you’ll run the risk of starting a nasty grease fire. You want a target temperature of 400° F since you’re going to lose a bit of heat when you add a new batch. Standard vegetable oil works well, but you can use any oil with a high smoke point.
Once they’re done, drain the potatoes and put them into a bowl of cold water. The goal is to get them down to room temperature before frying. You’ll probably need to change the water a few times to get to this point. This will also wash off some more starch. Don’t worry if the potatoes break apart. The uneven surfaces mean crispier pieces.
After the potatoes are cooled, drain off the water and add a few at a time to the pot. Be very careful here. The water on the potatoes in the hot oil will boil almost immediately and raise the oil level to several times its original height. Also don’t add too many or the oil temperature will drop too much and you’ll have oily fries. With thick-cut fries (like English chip style), you can probably put about 9-10 in at a time. Adjust accordingly for smaller fries.
Doneness is more of a visual thing than a time thing. Watch for some of the fry turning golden brown, but not the entire thing. By the time the entire fry is golden, it’ll be overdone. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to finish a batch of the thick-cut ones. Use a fry scoop to pull the fries out onto a draining rack or paper towels (your choice) and salt immediately. If you wait to salt, it won’t stick and you’ll spend way too much time reaching for something to dip them in.
What you’ll end up with is a french fry that is crispy on the outside, yet soft and fluffy on the inside. Odds are good you won’t find a better fry even when eating out.