Topic and Skill – Slicing and Temperature (Episode #13): Perfect fries at home. Slicing and temperature is key. The home fryer.
The best French fries I have ever had were at ‘Les Halles’ Restaurant in NYC where Anthony Bourdain was chef. We are lucky enough to have the recipe written in his ‘Les Halles’ cookbook published in 2004. This recipe is his, at the heart, although I have made some real world/home kitchen changes.
The key to making great crispy on the outside, smooth, warm and mellow on the inside, is to fry them twice. Once at a low temperature for a longer time. Then finally, right before serving, at a higher temperature for just a scant amount of time.
Temperature is key to having a good fry and ensuring your food is properly cooked. A countertop fryer is a great tool to aid in that; there are some fryers that hold as little as 4 cups of oil for smaller families and (depending on what you are frying) the oil can be used several times before it needs to be changed. My mother had an ancient countertop electric fryer with a lid and she knew exactly what temperature the Crisco (butter flavor) was by dropping a little batter in first. You can also use a saucepan and a ‘candy’ thermometer, it just takes some attentional tending.
*One important thing to note: The temperatures I quoted (time and time again) in the video demo are wrong. I offer no excuse, other than it had been a long day. The correct temperatures are written in the recipe below. Sorry for any confusion.
- 2 Idaho potatoes, the bigger and longer the better
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Kosher salt
Peel and cut potatoes. Potatoes should be cut at a uniform size to enable even cooking. ½” x ½” by the length of the potato is my preferred size. At this point, the potatoes must be chilled. There are two ways to do it, each have their pluses and minuses:
- An ice water bath. The ice water bath is helpful as it will keep the potato from oxidizing (darkening) as well as chilling. Potatoes should be kept in the ice bath for a minimum of 20 minutes. The minus to chilling in this way is that potatoes must be totally dried of moisture before putting them in the hot oil to keep them from sputtering and popping the oil.
- The freezer. To avoid the hazard of inadvertently placing water in the hot oil, I put my cut potatoes in a zip lock bag and put them in the freezer to chill. The cold delays the oxidation of the potatoes and chills them. The minus is that you don’t want the potatoes to freeze, just get very cold. So, don’t keep them in the freezer more than 15 minutes as you don’t want to put a frozen product into hot oil.
Use vegetable oil for your frying. *The initial fry will be at 275˚F for 8 minutes. Do not overcrowd the potatoes, allow them to jumble around easily. They should be a dark pale color. Remove from oil and place on a sheet pan.
Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. They can be kept this way for quite a long time, even overnight if you would like.
Raise the temperature of the oil. *The final fry is at 375˚F for 2 minutes, a much higher temperature for a much shorter amount of time.
The fries should be golden brown at this point. Remove from oil and place in large bowl lined with a kitchen towel. Sprinkle on coarse grained Kosher salt, toss the fries and salt around with the towel, whip the towel out of the bowl.
Serve (and eat) immediately.
Explore More Recipes
This is an ‘emulsion’ vinaigrette recipe. For a thick, creamy dressing, add oil very slow, whisking constantly.
Every Marylander has a crab cake recipe, but one can’t be a top Annapolis caterer without outstanding crab cakes.
Oven roasted asparagus and homemade chicken stock make this soup rich in flavor. Season slowly.
Nothing beats the flavor of homemade chicken stock. Don’t be shy, it’s not difficult to make. Craig walks step-by-step.
Make-ahead recipe! Prep chicken and refrigerate in an oven-proof dish, then finish in the oven for 45 mins prior to serving.
A classic chicken piccata recipe optimizes all parts of the bird with sautéing and a white wine pan-reduction sauce.
This pork shoulder recipe uses heritage breed hog which produces a reddish color meat. The fat is luscious with great flavor.
Hangar steak is a little known cut with for maximum flavor. This quick skillet recipe includes Maderia sauce.
Succotash is best with the freshest, local ingredients. When combined the sum of the ingredients is far greater than individually.
The secret to great pasta carbonara (besides fresh bacon and eggs) is ‘Mise En Place’ or gathering what you need before you begin.
Making a great omelette is an essential part of being a good cook. And essential to making a great omelette is egg selection.
Traditional New Orleans recipe for cherry bread pudding with whiskey bourbon sauce. Perfect finishing touch to a great meal.