The Best French Fries Ever
This weekend I was down in Ft. Lauderdale with my wife for a weekend break from the cold. It also happened to be Super Bowl weekend so there was a lot of excitement at the Marriott Resort we were staying at.
We enjoyed a couple of great lunches at their beach-side restaurant and on one of those occasions, I ordered a burger with fries. The burger was delicious but the fries were incredible, better than usual.
Just take one look at those fries in the photo above and you can see why. I remember Chef David Nelson explaining to me how to make the perfect French fry and writing this post about the technique. I'm sharing his article with you so you too can make French Fries like those above.
How to Prepare Perfect French Fries
by Chef David Nelson
There are a few simple tricks to making the perfect French fry. Pick the proper potatoes, clean and prepare them properly, cook them more than once and season them. That’s it!
The proper potato is the same one you use for making perfect baked potatoes. They must be a High Starch – Low Moisture potato like the Russet or if you can find them, the Burbank Russet.
You do not want a potato that is high in moisture if you are going to fry it in hot oil. We all know what happens when moisture interacts with water.
We want the high starch (Solids) in the potatoes to expand and burst during the cooking process to create that fluffy texture inside the crispy exterior.
Special Note Some old timers in the kitchens will tell you that using older potatoes will result in a better product. I believe that to be true. The potatoes need to “Cure” for a few weeks to allow the natural sugars to convert to starch. Natural sugars burn or brown too quickly under the high heat associated with frying. The folks at McDonalds Corporation have invested millions of dollars of research on this subject. French fries account for more than 25% of all potatoes sold in the U.S. market today and they (McDonalds) seem to have it right!
Prepping the Potatoes
As with anything you cook in volume, you must have fries of equal size to get a uniformly cooked product. The best thickness for French fries is ⅜ of an inch thick.
Peel your potatoes, one potato per person for a large order. Then slice them lengthwise into ⅜ inch slices. Then slice the slices into ⅜-inch sticks or fries.
Since Russet potatoes are high starch potatoes and we want to run the cut fries under cold running water until the water runs clear. This simply rinses off the surface starch that can cause the potatoes to look or become brown or gray.
Once rinsed, we want to soak them in water under refrigeration for at least three hours and up to two days. If you are pressed for time, even a one-hour soak will benefit the final product.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, we will cook the fries twice. I know it seems excessive but it is the single most important thing we will do to create the perfect fries.
Now, let’s select the best oil for frying. Most chefs will tell you that peanut oil is the best. This is for a number of reasons. Peanut oil stands up longer to high heat without breaking down or burning. Other oils will work fine, but not for as long. Peanut oil is a neutral oil, allowing the potato flavor to dominate.
Cooking the Fries
Preheat your deep fryer to a low temperature of 325º F. If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a Dutch oven with about 3 inches of oil in it.
Allow a few inches from the surface of the oil to the top of the sides of the Dutch oven to compensate for expansion when the fries are added. Use a deep-frying or candy thermometer to regulate the temperature.
The temperature of each cooking time is very important to the success of your fries. Remove your fries from the water bath and dry them THOROUGHLY on clean lint free towels of some kind, cloth or paper.
Do NOT put wet fries into hot oil, or you will have scars and a story to tell for the rest of your life.
Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, quickly but carefully add some of the fries into the oil, not overcrowding the fryer. You can do this step in batches. You want to cook the fries for about 3 minutes, until they are soft, slightly limp and just beginning to turn a very light golden color.
Remove the fries from the oil to a pan lined with paper towels or clean brown paper bags to drain. Repeat the process until you have cooked all of your fries. Let them rest at least 20 minutes. You can do this up to a few hours before you intend to cook and serve the fries.
At this point you have partially cooked the inside of the fries making them very tender and fluffy later. This process is called blanching. The next cooking will crisp them up just perfectly. When you are ready to finish the fries, reheat your oil.
This time heat your oil to 375º F. When the desired temperature has been reached, fry the fries in batches for about 4 minutes per batch. Look for the correct color and you should notice that the “bubbling” around the individual fries will have subsided; indicating that any retained moisture in the fries has been purged.
Remove the batches from the oil to a new set of clean towels or bags to drain. Season them with salt and pepper and serve at once. Salt...Yes! But why pepper? Because they are potatoes, right? Season them accordingly!
Over the Top French Fries
This is a follow up to Chef David Nelson's post on making the Perfect French Fry describing how you can take the fries above and take them over the top. Once you have mastered the perfect French fry, you will want them all the time. You will want to cook them for your friends.
You may wonder...can I make these even better? The good news is...Yes, you can! Let’s look at some simple ways to make your fries even more flavorful and unique.
Seasoning and Flavoring French Fries (Suggestions are for two russet potatoes cooked)
White Truffle French Fries
Wasabi Dusted French Fries
We found this recipe online some time ago. The chef who created it is Chef Michael C. Brown from the Metro Restaurants in Tucson, AZ. We love it! If you like wasabi, I think you will too.
- 1 tablespoon wasabi powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar.
Blend thoroughly and sprinkle on chips, fries or wedges.
Some Mid-Atlantic States are known for their “Beach Fries”, which are simply seasoned with Old Bay seasoning after coming out of the fryer.
Duck Fat French Fries
Just what you think...Potatoes cooked in duck fat are the best. Not for the faint hearted or if you are on a strict diet. Blanch the fries just like the master recipe and then fry the final batch in duck fat. Season and enjoy. The flavor is amazing.
Simply sprinkle Original Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix and Kosher salt over hot fries! Excellent!
When I was a kid, my dad would take us to Palisades Amusement Park in Fort Lee, New Jersey. If you are from the area and grew up in the 60's, you'll remember it.
And every visit I would have to have their French fries topped with vinegar from Fred Nasif's French fry stand served in pointed cups. They were called Saratoga French Fries. Loved them, but my dad would only let us have them after we were done with the rides for obvious reasons.
Today, I found a recipe for Palisades Amusement Park Saratoga French Fries on Food.com posted by plov53.
Palisades Park French Fries Recipe
- 5 large potatoes
- ½ gallon water
- 5 ounces malt vinegar
- mazola corn oil
- Heinz malt vinegar
- Peel and crinkle cut into large pieces.
- Place the uncooked fries into a gallon pitcher with the water and malt vinegar (to store extra potatoes).
- Fry the potatoes in the corn oil at medium temperature for two minutes.
- Remove and drain.
- To finish raise to heat of the corn oil to high.
- Drop the half-cooked potatoes to the oil and cook for one minute and ten seconds.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Serve in a paper cone and the malt vinegar and enjoy your childhood.
Everyone loves garlic and I'm learning it is heart healthy and can help lower my blood pressure. French fries are so good on their own, but add some quickly fried garlic and wow!
Here's how you make them. After you make your fries, finely chop three cloves of garlic and add them to the oil you cooked the French fries in for just 20 to 30 seconds. Do not let them burn or get to brown.
In a large bowl, toss the fries with the garlic and a drizzle of olive oil and if you have some grated Parmesan cheese, toss that in too. Season with a little salt and serve right away.
If you want to really take your fries over the top, substitute truffle salt. They will be awesome.