Everything You Need To Know To Make Great French Fries

Are you ready for life-changing French fries?

IMAGE Patrick Martires

What makes the perfect French fries? Each bite should be the lovechild of a crispy potato chip and creamy mashed potatoes. It also needs to be seasoned well, of course! A step up from your typical fast-food French fry, it also needs to have a little browning going on that makes it even more delicious. Is it really possible to achieve this awesomeness at home? Yes, it is!

We've got a video you can watch right here, but scroll further, and we break down every step and add a few more tips to help you reach French fry heaven:

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1 Pick the right potatoes.

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To get uniform shapes, and make your life generally easier, use jumbo-sized potatoes-or at least the largest you can find. Try to pick identical-sized potatoes for the best cooking experience. 

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2 Cut potatoes the same size.

Whether or not you peel your potatoes is up to you. However, it's more important that you cut your potatoes in relatively similar sizes-both in thickness and length. Even cuts will ensure that your potatoes cook at the same time. This means that you don't burn some pieces while others are still raw.

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To get somewhat even lengths, you can chop off the rounded ends of the potato, squaring it off. Set aside those pieces of potatoes for later use. For thickness, 1/4 inch is a good balance of not too thick, not too thin fries. If you want it to be crispier, go for a skinnier cut.

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3 Soak cut potatoes in cold water.

Why is this step important? Firstly, you don't want the potatoes to start turning brown before these are even cooked so soaking the whole spuds in water while working prevents its premature discoloration. Once you've cut the whole potatoes, however, you will still need to soak the sticks in water. This is because water helps wash away the starches outside your French fries. If you skip this step, the outer layer of your fries will cook and brown too quickly before letting the interior cook through. 

At room temperature, a good 2- to 3-hour soak is good enough. It might be more convenient, though, to put it in the refrigerator overnight.

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Use kitchen towels to dry fries as much as possible.
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4 Drain and dry potatoes well. 

After soaking your potatoes, put them in a towel-lined tray and press another layer of towels over them gently. You need to dry them well! Water droplets will react to oil and only give you horror stories of oil splatters. 

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Patted dry, these chicken wings are perfectly crisp straight from the deep fry oil.
Photo by Zoe del Rosario

5 Double fry to perfection.

Just like the crispiest chicken wings, you need to double fry your fries. We think investing in a candy or oil thermometer is worth it even for this purpose alone.

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For the first round of frying, you need to blanch the potatoes in oil that's 275 to 300 Fahrenheit (135 to 148 degrees C) for 3 to 4 minutes. Give it a gentle stir to keep it from sticking together. Without a thermometer, you can tell your oil is around 300 degrees F is when a wooden spot or chopstick starts to make small rapid bubbles when you dip it into the hot oil.

Keep your oil at these temperatures by slowly adding your potatoes instead of putting the entire batch in all in at once. (There's still the danger of overcrowding.) Check for doneness by testing one piece by slicing through it for fluffiness. It should be soft through and through but not yet browned and crispy.

For the second round of frying, you need to cook the potatoes for around 10 minutes until browned and crispy at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Photo by Patrick Martires

6 Use the right oil. 

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Different kinds of oil have different "smoke points". Once the oil reaches its smoke point, it means it's burned. It'll smell and taste off. That's the importance of using the right oil. Use an oil that can comfortably reach high enough temperatures to crisp up your food without smoking.

Canola oil has a smoke point that reaches 400 degrees F. It's possible to use, but if you have a choice, there is a better option. Corn oil has a smoke point of 440 degrees F. In addition, corn oil is still a neutral flavor that is best for deep-frying.

7 Drain on a rack, not on paper towels. 

Once you have those golden browned and crispy fries, transfer your fries straight onto a rack with a pan underneath to drain out the oil. Do not lay the fries down on paper towels because while paper towels will absorb excess oil it will also steam and cause the fries to become soggy. Instead, use paper towels to blot off any extra oil.

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

8 Season while warm. 

Even plain sea salt will make your perfect fries spectacular. Just make sure that you season while the fries are still hot so the granules don't just slip off. 

There you have it. You are now equipped to make life-changing, extraordinary French fries at home. No need to go out anymore!  

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