The Secret to Crisp, Homemade French Fries, Part 2
|Deep fryers are relatively inexpensive and make it easy to fry foods at home.|
Now, it's time to fry.
Step Three: Dry
|Dry the fries on a dish towl to ensure all the water is gone before frying.|
Colanders and mesh strainers work OK, but a solid method for drying your potatoes involves a simple kitchen towel. Spread your fries out on a thick, clean dish towel and pat dry. Then let them sit for at least half an hour. The towel should wick up excess moisture, leaving your fries ready to meet their maker.
Step Four: Prep the Fryer
Now that you've got fries ready to go, how are you going to actually fry them? There are a couple of ways to approach this. A sturdy two-gallon pot on the stove top can work fine -- all you'll need is a thermometer you can attach to the pot that dips slightly into the oil and a slotted metal spoon for scooping out your fries. Also, be sure not to fill the pot any more than 1/3 of the way to the top. Any more than that and you'll be redecorating your kitchen.
For me, I like one of those home-model deep fryers you can purchase at Bed, Bath and Beyond or similar stores. Most models are fairly cheap and have some sort of filtering system to keep your house from smelling like a McDonald's for the next week or so. Better still, they usually come with a removable oil vessel for easy clean-up, a fry basket for easy dunking, and are about the right size so that you don't have to use too much or too little oil. Almost all models have a nifty temperature control gauge that makes it easy to hold and maintain oil temperature so long as you don't overfill the basket.
What about the oil? Most French fry aficionados agree peanut oil is the superior lipid when it comes to making frittes. You're going to need at least two quarts of the stuff for most home fryers. You can also go with canola oil in a pinch -- just stay clear of corn or vegetable oil, which has a very distinct taste that sticks with the fry. Bonus points: Some fry makers swear by adding about 7 ounces of duck or bacon fat to the oil before frying. This practice can impart some serious flavor into your fries.
Step Five: Poaching
|Let the fries drain off thoroughly before moving to a bowl or baking sheet.|
There are a couple of important things to note here: First, fry in batches. If you overload the fryer, the temperature will drop and you'll end up with soggy, greasy fries. That's no good. Instead, work in small amounts, and take your time. The process will actually move quicker than if you fill the fryer too much and drop the temperature low. Second, be careful removing the fries from the vessel. Allow them to drain thoroughly over the pot/fryer and then place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or paper towels to wick up excess oil. Once you're done poaching, it's time for...
Step Six: Frying
|Tossed with kosher salt straight from the fryer, these frittes are amazing.|
After draining thoroughly, move your fries to a paper-towel-lined bowl and quickly season liberally with large-grain kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. Serve pronto. I like to eat 'em plain, but it's also hard to beat dipping them into classic tomato ketchup.
So there you have it: Relatively easy-to-make, hand-cut, homemade French fries that blow away most of the frittes you can buy in restaurants. Now get to frying.