Five Tips to Help You Make Restaurant-Quality French Fries at Home
With their golden brown color, salty starchy flavor, and ability to pair well with anything and everything, French fries are a widely loved snack or side. Whether shoestring or steak cut, the ideal French fries are crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and evenly seasoned. To make professional quality French fries in your kitchen, follow these five steps.
Choosing the Correct Type of Potato
Russets, yukons, red, oh my! With so many varieties of potatoes in the grocery store, how to choose the right type for fries? The answer is simple: always choose russets. These large potatoes are high in starch and low in water, which helps yield a crispy fry. Yukon gold, red potatoes, and new potatoes all have a much higher moisture content, which results in soggy, limp fries.
The Right Equipment
French fries are simple to make but do require a few tools. First, a sharp knife is the best way to ensure even cuts if you're slicing and shaping the fries yourself. Assuming you don't own a fryer, you'll need deep, sturdy pot that can handle the high heat; for this, we like a classic enameled Dutch oven. A candy thermometer is the best way to check the temperature of your oil; if the heat is too low, the fries won't ever get properly crispy; too hot and the outside of the fry will turn a deep golden brown before the inside is fully cooked.
For transferring fries from the oil, a spider strainer is key. It will gently remove fries without breaking them the way that tongs would. And finally, you'll want to let the fries rest on a wire rack-lined baking sheet, to allow the oil to drain off while keeping the fries crispy-just placing them on paper towel leads to soggy fries.
A Water Bath
Soaking uncooked fries in cold water for at least four hours rinses off any excess starch. This helps them to crisp up evenly and ensures that they don't get too dark on the outside before the inside is cooked. Fries can be soaked for up to 24 hours, which is a bonus if you're trying to do some dinner prep in advance.
Frying the potatoes twice in a neutral oil, such as canola or safflower oil, ensures that the fries are (you guessed it!) crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Blanch the fries in 300°F degree oil for three to four minutes until they're soft to the touch. Remove and let them rest on a sheet pan while you finish the rest of the raw potatoes, then increase the heat until the oil reaches 350°F degrees. Add the fries carefully back into the oil, again in batches to avoid overcrowding, until they achieve that picture perfect golden color.
Seasoning While Hot
Potatoes are mild tasting and salt really enhances their flavor. Salting fries while they're still hot ensures that the crystals stick. Season carefully; take a few bites to taste and add more salt if needed. Remember it's impossible to remove salt but you can add more to ensure the flavor is spot on (hard job, right?).