French Fries - DIY and Easy
Your own French fries. No need to go out.
Yes, you can grill a burger. Yes, you can grill a sausage.
You even know how to grill flank steak, pork chops, and chicken breasts -- not to mention salmon fillets and swordfish.
But the side dish that is great with all of the above?
French fries, of course! -- and here is how to make your own. We are going to make these using Canola oil. That's the healthiest way. Some people think that this produces less flavor than unhealthy things like lard or beef tallow. Maybe so, but these people are the same ones who smother their fries in ketchup, are they not?
Canola oil produces delicious French fries, chips, pommes frites -- whatever they are called where you reside. The underlying potato is so good that the medium in which the fries are produced is to some degree secondary.
The ingredients are here
Regular old baking potatoes are what you need, one or more per person, depending on -- hunger. French fries are not noted for their freshness the next day, but in fact in you want to splurge here and use two potatoes per person, and you want leftovers, go for it! A microwave can do wonders to day-old french fries.
You will also need a sharp chef's knife and that indispensable item a potato peeler.
Assemble your starting team.
One other ingredient: oil
Boil them in oil, that's what we are going to be doing.
Vegetable oil (a mix of the oils from various vegetables), Canola oil -- they will all do. (You could even try olive oil, probably not the EVOO kind, if you are daring and you don't mind the expense -- let us know how they turned out). For EVOO, click here.
No need for a deep fryer with its own wire basket, though, admittedly, that would be handy. if you have one lying around the kitchen, and you still have the user's manual, then maybe the discussion here won't teach you much. But if you are, like the vast majority of us, not so endowed, then just pour the oil into a very deep pot. About a quart or more for four potatoes. The deeper the pot the better, as that will contain the splattering. You'll also need a draining spoon of the sort shown here. The whole thing looks very professional.
Peel and slice
Peel the potatoes. Then cut each one in half lengthwise. Cut the half in half lengthwise, but be careful when you do this because sharp knives should always be treated with the utmost respect. Then slice the pieces you now have into strips of a size and thickness you like best.
Here I decided to leave one half of one potato unpeeled, but slice it up like the rest. I wanted to see if leaving some skin on some pieces makes a difference to their taste.
The future fries
Put them in cold water to soak for up to a half hour, less if you are in a hurry.
Near the end of the soak, pour the oil out into the pan you are going to use, and turn the heat up high. When you think the oil might be ready, and is pipping hot, proceed. You can test the oil scientifically (if you have a cooking thermometer you are looking for 375 degrees). Toss in a small cube of bread or a small cube of potato and see how long it takes to turn brown -- if in 30 seconds or less, then you are good to go.
After the soak
Dry the pieces of potato you now have on paper towels.
This is very important because any water on them will cause the hot oil in which we fry the fries to sputter and splatter oil all over the place, even beyond the confines of your deep pot. The drying of the potato slices, our future french fries, prevents this sputtering and splattering.
Add them to boiling oil and cook in batches
Some cooks think five minutes is enough, others go for ten or more. The length of time the potato slices are in the pipping hot oil depends on whether you prefer a bit of crunch that reflects the potato you started with or whether you prefer a softer french friy tamed by the hot oil.
Use the draining spoon you have to take them out when they have turned a pleasant brown and will be to your taste.
Add another batch. You can do them all in three, or even two, batches if you are in a hurry.
Out and about
Spoon them out and into a bowl lined with paper towels.
They look absolutely wonderful at this point, a most pleasing shade of brown, with touches of white, all of this reflecting the earth from which they originally came. The aroma is terrific also. It isn't difficult to see why french fries are one of the most popular foods in the world.
Add salt and let them cool until you can eat them with all that wonderful meat or fish you have grilled.
No need to go out.
The oil can be reused. We are all conservationists, are we not?
Once the oil is cool, pour it back -- a funnel helps -- into the container from which it came. It can then be used for other batches of homemade fries, or even for cooking other things.
End of note.
Very thinly cut strips of potato, much more thinly cut than the ones shown here, are called shoestring potatoes. Try these in your oil as well.
Apparently, some of the fast-food chains, all of which live or die by how many french fries their customers buy, dust their fries with kashi, dextrin, and other flavor-coatings in order to increase crispiness.
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