Real Honest-to-Badness French Fries
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4 to 4 servings
Omigosh. I had forgotten. Making real french fries, from real potatoes, deep-fried in real oil is worth every minute of the time it takes to do it. And every calorie.
- 1 kg russet baking potatoes , (about 4 large ones)
- vegetable oil , (like sunflower or canola)
- While you are busy wiping the dust and dead silverfish out of your deep fryer (at least, that’s what I had to do), have your young assistant scrub the potatoes very well under running water. If you would like to leave the peels on, this is particularly important. Examine the potatoes and cut off any weird icky bits or bruises.
- With a sharp knife, slice the potatoes lengthwise approximately 1/3 in. (1 cm) thick. Cut each slice again lengthwise into french-fry-type strips. Place in a bowl and wash in several changes of cold water, then drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Washing and drying the potatoes prevents them from turning black, and removes excess starch, which can cause the potatoes to stick together when you cook them.
- Fill your deep fryer or a deep heavy pot with at least 3 in. (8 cm) of oil. Heat the vegetable oil to 340°F (170°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. (Yes, you really need one.)
- Now, have your child stand back, because the hot oil may spatter. Add the potato strips in batches, about one quarter at a time, to the heated oil and let cook for 5 or 6 minutes, or until they are just beginning to turn colour and are soft enough to squish when pressed lightly. (The temperature of the oil will drop when food is added to it, but it will quickly recover, so don’t panic.) Remove from oil, and let drain on a tray lined with a double layer of paper towel. Repeat with the remaining potato strips. (They will look pitiful and soggy at this point. Don’t panic. This is just the first step.) You can, if you want, hold these precooked potatoes at room temperature for a few hours, until just before you’re ready to eat.
- Now, heat the oil in the fryer to 375°F (190°C) and return the potato strips to the oil (again in batches). Fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown and very crisp. Drain thoroughly, dump out into a paper-towel-lined bowl to absorb any excess grease and sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Eat. Enjoy. Don’t think about it.