Today is National French Fry day!
In honour of National French Fry Day I am going to go get some killer fries from Burger Joint at some point. Oh yes I am.
I used to make french fries at home on a fairly regular basis, and not like baking freezer fries in an oven, either; I started with a potato and worked my way forward from there. It took me a long time to learn to make fries from scratch because there is something that not a lot of people want to tell you for some reason, which is this: you have to fry them twice.
I KNOW RIGHT? But you fry once to cook them and once to crisp them. When you see someone at a fast food joint dumping a bag of frozen fries into a fry-basket, they've already been fried once and then frozen.
So this is how I made delicious fries at home.
How Sam Makes Fries
You start with the basics: slice a bunch of potatoes into french fry shapes. This is not easy as french fries are square and potatoes are oblong. You may wish to peel your potato, or not! You may wish to have a french-fry-chopping machine (they do exist) or just go at it with a knife and your wits, like me. I like mine extra thin, so I used a very sharp knife. Yes, I know, recipe for disaster.
Incidentally you can make potato chips the exact same way you make fries in this recipe, just slice the potatoes thinly instead of into fry shapes.
Once all your potatoes are chopped, you have to get some of the starch outta them, so you soak them in icewater in the fridge for about an hour. The water turns all cloudy, it's interesting. SCIENCE!
Then you take the fries out, pat them dry a bit, and put them in a colander. Well, I do anyway, because once they're in the colander you sprinkle some cornstarch over them and toss them around to get them coated. This will eventually result in extra-crispy crust on the fries.
When I started out I used to use whatever oil I had handy because I wasn't picky and was broke, but olive oil is Very Bad and peanut oil is Very Good for frying. Grapeseed oil is good, I've heard. Crisco makes a frying oil; you can add a bit of Crisco shortening as you're heating the oil (Crisco in the forties marketed itself as the best shortening for frying crisp chicken). If you save off the fat from cooking beef or bacon, you can also add that.
Anyway put enough oil in the pot so that the fries you add will be completely submerged. This is not a pan fry situation!
Heat the oil to 350F and try to keep it more or less there, or a little bit higher. Cook the fries in batches, depending on how big the saucepan is that you're heating the oil in. Cast iron works well for this because while cast iron often doesn't heat evenly, it does hold heat really well. Remove the fries when they get all soft and floppy, usually about five minutes. Spread them out to drain on a paper towel.
At this point, you can actually put them in tupperware or bags and freeze them. Lo, you have made freezer fries! But be careful: when you put freezer fries into hot oil to cook them a second time, water crystals may have formed and you make get spitting oil.
If you're not going to freeze them, let them cool for a little while, then re-heat the oil and pop them back in. They will get crispy and turn golden.
I never had a fryer basket or a skimmer so at this point I would pour everything into a colander set over a large bowl; the fries would drain in the colander and the bowl would catch the oil. Oil can be kept and reused for at least a few more fryings before it is discarded, though eventually it gets pretty gross.
Salt the fries while hot, or add other herbs or spices to your liking.
And that is how Sam makes french fries.
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