This is supposed to be the type of column where I tell you how easy it is to make something, then I spew out a bunch of half-assed short cuts and oversimplified directions. I’m not going to bullshit you on this one French fries are really hard to make. They take time, and effort, and patience. It sucks.
But, when it’s all said and done and you’re left with a plate of golden fries and a puddle of ketchup that could drown a bull rhinoceros, you’ll know that your efforts were well worth it. Maybe, I don’t know. But hey! Let’s make some fries.
You could easily slice a potato, drop it into some hot oil for a while, sprinkle it with salt, and douse it in condiments and that whole mess would be relatively passable as French fries. But if you really want to achieve fried greatness—and also impress a bunch of people, which is likely the reason you’re cooking anything—you have to commit to the process.
First, take some large peeled russet potatoes and slice them into really thick batons. Shoestring fries are for mediocre chain steakhouses and the French. (Statistically speaking, you’re neither of those.) Then, soak the fries in ice water for at least an hour, changing the water out halfway through. That’s going to draw out the starch and allow the fries to crisp in the oil for a longer period of time without the natural sugars caramelizing and burning. Boom, science'd.
After the potatoes are done soaking, drop them in a pot of well-salted boiling water—the cooking liquid should taste like the ocean—for 6 or 7 minutes, until they’re incredibly tender. Not only is this going to fully cook the potato and make sure all the oil has to do is crisp it up, but it also salts the future-fry from the inside out.
Then you’re going to drain the boiled potato batons in a colander, being careful not to break them, and throw them in the freezer on a sheet of wax paper for at least an hour. When you fry the potatoes while they’re frozen, you ensure that the fries are going to hold their shape without disintegrating or becoming completely oil-penetrated.
In a large dutch oven—or a deep-fryer if you have one—heat up a good amount of peanut oil to 350 degrees. You can use canola or vegetable oil, but, if Bobby Flay says peanut oil, you better well fucking listen. Drop your frozen potato sticks into the oil without overcrowding the pot, which prevents any steam from forming, and let cook for 4 or 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the fries and let drain on a cooling rack or some paper towels. Then go completely buck wild with those crispy bad boys. Ketchup, mayonnaise, nacho cheese, gravy—you just do you. If you want to get real classy with it, toss your fries in some butter, chopped parsley, and a whole lot of minced raw garlic.
Still hungry?Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.
Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer