I don’t think there are many folks who would turn down some well-made french fries. I love french fries. And yet the classic fast food version of them sometimes falls flat, particularly if they are more than a few minutes out of the fryers. Unbeknownst to most consumers, big fast food fries are often sprayed with a sugared water solution or some form of sucrose before the fries are even frozen, then when popped frozen into the fryers, this sheen of sugar is what aids in the crisp, caramelized, sweet, crunchy surface of the fries to which will adhere the added salt. It’s a fastfood trick that frankly, pisses me off along with other fast food tricks that employ shortcuts that aren’t really necessary, or which introduce ingredients you could well do without. But that is big business, and you can’t buck the tide, or can you? We were experimenting with fries yesterday and I can assure you that you can get BRILLIANT fries without many tricks. Just good potatoes, homemade lard and good sea salt.
For the experiments, I got some pre-cut and frozen fries in the grocery, and on the packaging there seemed to be no indication of a sugar spray of any sort in the ingredients list. Then we heated up the lard to a medium-low temperature and did the first cooking in batches for say 2-3 minutes, just enough to really heat the fry through, and cook the insides thoroughly as the fry is removed and retains the heat. Once we had “par-fried” the fries and they had cooled slightly, we ramped up the heat on the lard to high, then plunged small batches of the once-cooked fries into the hot, hot oil and watched carefully until they had achieved just a blush of golden hue, and these were removed with a chinese strainer, drained on paper towels and tossed with fine kosher salt. They were served in a cone of waxed Zubuchon paper up top with a dish of ketchup on the side. They were FABULOUS. Really, really good fries. The lard does it every single time. And the double frying (a chef trick for those in the know) also does the trick. And use good salt. These fries were crisp and flavorful, without seeming fatty and they didn’t sit around long enough to get limp and lame, the crew devoured them in record time! For another variation, we tried fries with a bit of paprika, and a third batch with salt and vinegar powder. All versions were delicious.
I know what you’re thinking. What?! Lard?! Is he out of his mind? Not at all. Until recently in the U.S., most fries were cooked in transfat laden oils, which made them less healthy than eating our lard fried version. Regulations have changed that practice in the U.S. But in the Philippines, I suspect most fries are still cooked in transfat laden oils. So there. Okay, so fries are generally unhealthy…I agree with you there. But if you are going to indulge every once in while, shouldn’t you just go all the way and enjoy them at their best? Heehee. These aren’t for sale yet, just experimenting. But I tell you, I could sit down with an order of these and an ice-cold soda or beer and be one happy camper. Every once in a while, that is. :) Now if only pinoys would take to a pork belly or porchetta sandwich with these fries on the side. Yum.