Easy Homemade French Fries
Photo by LynnKK
The Secrets to Perfect Home Cut French Fries
Before I found this incredibly easy method for making the very best french fries I had tried everything to prepare homemade fries. I soaked them in ice water as my mother did and fried them after drying them one by one. I did the two wave fry, cooking first till barely beige and limp and then frying a second time till crisp. I parboiled the potato strips in water, drying again and frying.
My tools were an electric frying pan, a FryDaddy, a generic deep fryer I got at a thrift shop. Nothing really worked well. My best efforts, and they were labor-intensive, were about 80 percent as good as a fresh fast food fry. I was about ready to give up.
I made one last purchase of a relatively high end deep fryer -- I am not going to reveal the brand -- and found the oil was only heating to about 250 degrees. Arrgh. Clearly it was defective but I was so disgusted I just stashed it in the basement and told the family we were baking frozen fries in the oven from that point forward.
Chance Purchase = Fry Nirvana
By chance I picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated, the July 2009 issue. The scientific twist this magazine takes to cooking is always intriguing to me. Cooking is, after all, a tasty chemistry experiment. This issue had an article that advocated the unusual method of frying just-cut fries in peanut oil, starting with both the potatoes and the oil at room temperature. The method was attributed to French chef JÃ¶el Robuchon.
I read through the recipe a few times. It seemed almost too simple to be true. But, as is typical with Cooks Illustrated, they had an explanation for every step. Since potatoes are cheap, although peanut oil not so much. I decided to give it a try even with the slightly pricey oil.
The success of this recipe depends upon two ingredients, the proper pan and patience. You will not get the best results if you do not have all of these ready to go at fry time.
Yukon Gold Potatoes -- this variety has the proper moisture content to withstand the longer frying time.
Peanut oil -- it can handle the high temperatures and can be reused a few times.
Heavy, preferably cast iron pan -- heats up evenly and retains the cooking temperature throughout the fry.
Patience -- from the time you turn on the burner until the fries are complete can take 25 to 40 minutes.
Yukon Golds cut up in their skins into about 1/4 inch square strips cooked up into magnificent fries when peanut oil was used. Varying the method with regular russets or other vegetable oil was not as successful. Using my heavy Circulon kettle worked well at keeping the heat rising gradually and then maintaining temperature. A less heavy kettle would work but you might need to keep an eye out for uneven heating.
Probably the hardest part is waiting -- first waiting without stirring for the first 15 minutes and then waiting an additional 10 to 20 minutes for the fries to crisp.
The Biggest Surprise
You can use the oil again so it can be strained and stored to await the next time. I replaced it in the bottle and found only about a quarter of a cup was missing. All that frying time and such a small amount absorbed into the fries was amazing, and a fair amount of oil was blotted up by paper towels in the serving bowl as well. Healthy, too? Not exactly, but much less oil was used than other methods I had tried.
Straightforward, Simple and Superb
Trust me, this is absolutely the easiest french fry recipe ever. The hardest part may be the waiting, followed by the slicing, which is simple. You can cook these while you make the main dish -- steak, burgers, chicken -- with little trouble as they practically cook themselves.
Try this method once and you will have the routine down.Then get ready to enjoy your reputation as the best french fry chef ever.
Looking for a More Elegant Potato Option?
Try some Hasselback Potatoes. Crispy, buttery goodness with your choice of toppings.
Need a Side for Fried Chicken or Other Picnic Food?
Here is the ultimate picnic potato salad.
Crispy Fries Plus a Juicy Lucy = Food Synergy
Discover the secret to making the best Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 to 50 minutes
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
- Enough peanut oil to cover the potatoes -- have a couple bottles on hand
- Your favorite fry condiments -- ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, hot sauce -- you decide
- Mix sea salt, pepper and garlic powder together and put in a shaker if you have one or otherwise in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Line a large bowl with paper towels.
- Scrub the potatoes. No need to peel.
- Slice each potato in half the long way.
- Then make 1/4 to 1/3 inch slices the long way.
- Stack the slices and cut into sticks that are about 1/4 to 1/3 inch square and the length of the potato.
- Place all the potato sticks in a large, heavy pot. The pot should be large enough to leave at least three to five inches above the top of the potato stick pile to the top edge of the pot.
- Pour enough peanut oil in to just cover the potatoes.
- Turn the heat on under the pot to high and then set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the pot but do not touch it for the fifteen minutes.
- After 15 minutes take a wooden spoon and gently stir the potatoes. The oil should be boiling vigorously and the potatoes should be limp but not browned.
- Continue to let the potatoes boil on high. Using a metal tongs gently stir and redistribute the strips every two or three minutes.
- As the potatoes continue to cook you will notice they begin to color and start to feel more rigid.
- After a total of 25 minutes of cooking start stirring and lifting with the tongs every minute.
- What you want to see is a medium brown color and a crunchy feel to the potatoes.
- If they are not quite there at 25 minutes give them five to ten more minutes, checking often.
- If your potatoes have a lot of moisture -- really fresh from the backyard or farmers market -- they may take up to 40 minutes total.
- When they are crisp, golden brown and separated from each other turn off the heat and use the tongs to transfer gently to the bowl.
- Sprinkle with a little topping mixture after each tong-full. Once all the fires are in the bowl toss with the tongs to distribute the salt, garlic, pepper mixture. Add more topping if needed to taste.
- Serve with your favorite dips.
- NOTE: Allow the oil to cool completely and strain back into the bottle/bottles. Store in a cool dry place and use again for future batches. Discard when the oil becomes darkened, usually after 3 or 4 uses.
The key to these crispy fries is a steady buildup of heat and then maintenance of the temperature as the fries complete cooking, This heavy cast iron dutch oven is just the answer.
I have used my Chicago Cutlery knives for 25 years. All my fries are cut with the chef's knife.
The oil choice really does make a difference. My homemade fries are made exclusively with this oil.