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How-To

How to Make French Fries

The only recipe you’ll ever need for crisp, delicious results—every time

Fine Cooking Issue 112
Photos: Scott Phillips
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At my restaurants in boston, we cut and cook about 2,000 pounds of potatoes for french fries every day, which has put me in the position of knowing a heck of a lot about fries. Fortunately, I love them, and I’ve learned that the best results come from getting the little things right: You have to choose the proper potatoes, cut them uniformly, and then fry them twice. When tossed with just the right amount of salt and served piping hot, these crisp, golden fries rival those of any restaurant—even mine.

Need to Know

Russets are best for frying They have a high starch content and relatively mild flavor. Look for Burbank russets, which develop a crisper texture and cook more evenly than Norkotah russets. If the variety isn’t indicated on the bag (or if you’re buying from a bulk bin), try asking the produce manager which variety is typically stocked. Russets may also be labeled as Idaho or baking potatoes.

Soaking removes excess starch Letting the sliced potatoes soak in water and then rinsing them a few times removes excess surface starch, which would otherwise cause premature browning when the potatoes are fried.

A neutral-flavored oil produces fresh-tasting fries Peanut and canola oils work best. They also have a high smoke point, which means they can reach the high temperatures necessary for deep frying without burning.

The ultimate texture comes from double frying The first fry (at 330°F) softens and cooks the potatoes through; the second fry (at 360°F) browns them to crispy perfection. Frying the potatoes just once produces tough, grainy, cardboard-like results.

Cook’s Tip

Hand slice the potatoes There’s no need for fancy tools or cutting methods when slicing potatoes for french fries. Simply cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick disks, then cut these disks lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks. Try to keep your cuts uniform so the potatoes cook evenly.

Tool Kit – Have these kitchen essentials on hand before you start the recipe:

• Vegetable peeler (optional)
• Cutting board
• Chef’s knife
• Liquid measuring cup
• Large bowls
• Kitchen towels
• Baking sheets
• Large pot or Dutch oven
• Deep-fry thermometer
• Skimmer or large slotted spoon
• Paper towels

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