I love French fries, pommes frites, papas fritas, or â€œchipsâ€. Hot out of the fat and salted to perfection, I love to sink my teeth through the crisp caramelized outer layer and into the softer core of each individual fry. Ketchup is a must as well. Ever since I can recall eating, I loved French fries. We used to make them at home by peeling and slicing potatoes and throwing them into a pan with hot fat. They were a far cry from commercial fries because the starch content of the local potatoes differed from the classic and unrivalled russet potato that is used by most large consumers of French friesâ€¦Ours were always soggy and more like fried bananas than French fries. Over the years, I have read dozens of articles, recipes and advice on making the best French fries and all seemed too involved for me, considering you can buy pretty good fries at McDonaldâ€™s or other fast food restaurants. Never mind that some of them spray their fries with a sucrose film so that they crisp easier and have that addictive sweet and salty taste. In the last ten years I donâ€™t think I have ever personally cooked French fries at homeâ€¦it was just easier to get them at fast food restaurants.
There are several critical factors for achieving French fry perfectionâ€¦ first, good potatoes such as russets that seem to have the right balance of starch and moisture that take really well to frying. They need to be cut in a uniform size for equal cooking time. They should be fried TWICE. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive but apparently you need to fry them for several minutes then drain and dry on paper towels and later they need to be fried again at a higher temperature for say 2-3 minutes until just crisp. Sprinkle generously with good kosher salt and enjoy with ketchup, mayonnaise or vinegar. Donâ€™t cook too many fries at the same time as the temperature of the fat will drop too much. It all just sounded too involved. So last week when I spied a bag of sliced frozen French fries that indicated they had already been fried once and frozen and only needed to be fried for 2-3 more minutes in hot oil, I thought I hit the jackpot! I bought the bag for a reasonable price and tested them out at the beach with just a small saucepan half-filled with vegetable oil.
The results? Shockingly good! Sprinkled with kosher salt they rivaled most of the commercially available fries in Manila. As long as you ate them within 10 minutes of cooking, these were really good. Look for them in the grocery nearest you. Make sure they say already fried once. That seems to be the key. Do not defrost them before cooking. Fry up more than you think you need as I have rarely seen leftover friesâ€¦