Everybody loves french fries. They are the perfect combination of grease, salt, comforting carbs and they can be eaten alone or with your favourite meat dish.
Sure, you could buy a bag of frozen fries from the supermarket and fry them up in no time. But they taste inferior to freshly made fries and contain so many preservatives it makes your shampoo look like an organic smoothie. Even worse, some brands of frozen fries use trans-fat, which is bad for heart health.
Getting your fries done right, however, involves more than peeling, slicing and deep-frying the potatoes. Chances are your fries will turn out limp and greasy, instead of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a springy texture, if you cook them this way?
What’s wrong with my french fries?
The main reason why your fries go limp is due to the potatoes’ high moisture content. It is also why choosing the right type of potatoes is so important when it comes to making french fries.
Russet potatoes are best for french fries as they have a high starch content. Meaning, it contains less water than other potato types. This will yield fries that are soft on the inside and make them less likely to stick together.
With the wrong preparation method, fries will end up burnt and blackened on the outside. That’s because all fries need to be soaked for a few hours, or overnight, to wash away the excess starch, before they go into the fryer. Sounds contradictory, but starch makes the fries brown extremely quickly. It’s how you end up with burnt yet undercooked fries.
You will also need to fry them twice in order to achieve the best results – once to ensure the insides are evenly cooked, and the second time to achieve the crispy golden-brown texture that perfect fries have, as well as to prevent the fries from getting soggy later on.
The cooking oil used can’t be too hot, either. It has to be at just the right temperature. The potatoes need to be sliced to the correct measurement: not too thick and not too thin to retain a crispy yet soft on the inside consistency.
While it’s true that making fries from scratch is more complicated than you thought, with some simple preparation beforehand, you can achieve a high standard of french fries that you see in Michelin-star bistros. So don’t reach for that bag of frozen fries just yet.
What goes into the greatest french fry ever
The only time-consuming part of making french fries is the act of soaking them in water before cooking. And perhaps peeling and slicing the potatoes, but you can use a mandoline or a french fry cutter for that.
Here is a tried-and-tested recipe for homemade french fries.
- 4 large Russet potatoes
- Enough vegetable oil to fill half of your pot (do not use more than this amount as it will cause a mess!)
- Sea salt or kitchen salt
- A large bowl
- A large and deep pot
- A cooking thermometer
- A cooling rack (Use this instead of a paper towel to prevent your fries from soaking up too much grease)
- Peel the potatoes and cut the ends off. Slice each fry about 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch thick. Consistently-shaped fries deliver more uniform results, so ensure all the fries are cut in this way.
- Soak the fries in a large bowl with cold water for four hours, or overnight. The longer they soak, the softer the fries will be on the inside, with a smaller chance of them burning on the outside.
- Remove the fries from the bowl, drain them of as much water as possible, and lay them on a dishtowel. Pat them as dry as you can. This step is extremely important as water causes hot oil to splatter.
- Heat the oil to 148°C. Drop the fries gently into the oil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove from the oil and heat the oil up to 204°C. Put the fries back into the oil for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil, lay them on a cooling rack and season at once with sea salt or kitchen salt.
As you can see, it’s really easy to expand on your french fry game. Just give yourself a few hours or a day in advance when it comes to preparation. The extra time will be worth the tasty result.