16 May2006

afry1

I love French fries, pommes frites, papas fritas, or “chips”. 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 fries…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 McDonald’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 don’t think I have ever personally cooked French fries at home…it was just easier to get them at fast food restaurants.

There are several critical factors for achieving French fry perfection… 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. afry2They 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. Don’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 fries…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Carlo says:

    The best fries I had were at Les Halles in NYC (where Anthony Bourdain used to work). They claimed to have the best fries in the city and after trying them, I thought those were the best fries I’ve had in my life.

    May 16, 2006 | 10:02 pm

     
  2. Mandy says:

    i love fries too! and belgian fries are one variety of FF that i love as well. not to mention, mcdonald’s FF. heehee.

    but interesting to read about is jeffrey’s steingarten’s article on this: frying in horse fat if i remember correctly… ew.

    May 16, 2006 | 11:15 pm

     
  3. mita says:

    I fry them twice too – same with the thicker home fries. The best French fries I’ve had were from Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue in Kansas City, MO. I asked the guy serving us what they did to make it so good and all he said was, “I cooked it and that’s why they’re good!”
    My husband believes they were fried in lard. However they did it, they were just as good reheated in the oven the day after we kept it in the car trunk in the freezing cold.

    May 17, 2006 | 1:38 am

     
  4. lorenzo says:

    If you want good chips then it has to be a fish and chip shop in England, Scotland or Belgium. McDonald’s??? they don’t even use potatoes in their fries, it’s something made from potatoes. Fantastic blog by the way.

    May 17, 2006 | 5:29 am

     
  5. asunta says:

    what was the brand you bought? i use ore-ida extra crispy fries and they taste real good. i love that they really stand up just like what their commercial says.

    btw would you know how to make the icing on estrelle’s cake, the caramel icing? please share if you do. thanks. keep on blogging.

    May 17, 2006 | 8:47 am

     
  6. linda says:

    with obesity and type 2 diabetes being a big problem in western countries (Australia alone has 300 people a day diagnosed with the disease),I think french fries should be eaten once in a blue moon or in moderation or not at all but,if i do eat some (3 or 4 pcs.) it’ll be the thicker ones as thin fries absorbs more fat or oil.The commercial FF are mostly drenched in oil and tallow which helps the fries obtain their crispness and eye-appeal(tallow is animal fat and is artery-clogging).

    May 17, 2006 | 8:52 am

     
  7. booey says:

    Hi! You should read the Jeffrey Steingarten article (in his first book) that Mandy mentioned… lotsa tips on how to cook the perfect pommes frites though at the end of his experimentation, he concluded that the best oil/fat/lard to cook fries in is horse fat! Very interesting reading…

    May 17, 2006 | 10:04 am

     
  8. gonzo says:

    it’s unfortunate that we only have one type of potato available in manila — the waxy kind, as opposed to the high-starch floury type, such as russets. Our local potatoes are good for potato salad and boiling, but useless for french fries and mashed potatoes.

    May 17, 2006 | 12:48 pm

     
  9. trishlovesbread says:

    To those concerned about deep-frying, Nigella has a great recipe of “crisp” roast potatoes. She tosses potato wedges in a little goose or duck fat (hehe, can’t escape the fat), then in cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper. Then she puts them in the oven to roast. Different treat, but no less satisfying!

    May 17, 2006 | 1:01 pm

     
  10. fried-neurons says:

    I love french fries. I never make ’em at home, though.

    I actually like the slim fast-food style better than the thicker wedge style. IMHO, McDonald’s and In n’Out fries are the best.

    And I ALWAYS have them with mayo. NEVER with ketchup. :)

    May 17, 2006 | 2:21 pm

     
  11. Ana says:

    I love fries! My favorite right now is from National Sports Grill and of course, Mcdo. When I make mine at home, I just toss those frozen fries (do not defrost)into the oven, seasoned of course, and voila! No fat fries!

    May 17, 2006 | 3:05 pm

     
  12. ShoppaHolique says:

    NYFD! I love em in wedges

    May 17, 2006 | 11:57 pm

     
  13. acidboy says:

    mcdonalds use frozen dehydrated potatoes, mostly sourced from idaho. one of their secrets was using beef tallow in frying. of course that created quite a stir in hindu countries, as well as some vegetarian patrons.

    May 18, 2006 | 10:18 am

     
  14. Wilson Cariaga says:

    yes, fries need to be blanched in oil first before really frying them to acheive a crisp layer. . .

    May 19, 2006 | 7:54 am

     
  15. chick says:

    i like mcdonald’s fries too! :)

    i love potato corner’s bbq fries and T.G.I.Friday’s fries w/ honey mustard dip! :D

    Aug 16, 2007 | 3:35 pm

     
 

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