French Fries

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by markv, Oct 19, 2003.

  1. markv

    markv

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    Dear Friends:

    Believe it or not, I have only made French fries in cooking school. None of the restaurants I have worked in ever had them on the menu and I just never made them at home, until now.

    I bought a Euro-Pro deep fryer and decided to make fries. Now I know about the frying them twice deal. I reviewed four recipes, my cooking school recipe, one from Cooks Illustrated, and two I found on the Food network website.

    The recipes varied in the initial temp to fry them at from 250 to 325.

    They varied in how long the first frying should take, from 2 minutes to 10 minutes. (Yet they all suggested the same size fries: 1/4 inch). A couple of the recipes, after giving their recommended number of minutes for the first frying added: "Or until they start to turn golden."

    They also varied on the temperature for the second frying from 350 to 390 degrees.

    Finally, as to how long the second frying should take, they said either one minute, or "until browned."

    So, armed with these inconsistencies, I endeavored to produce French Fries.

    I peeled 2 Idaho potatoes, cut them into perfect 1/4 inch cubed strips on my mandoline, and rested them in ice water.

    I set the initial temp for 325, (using Mazola corn oil. It was on sale). I decided to go with "until they start to turn golden" for the first frying. That took 8 minutes.

    I removed the fries and set the temp for 375 for the second frying. When the unit reached 375 I returned the fries to the oil. After about a minute and a half, I noticed most of the fries were starting to get just a little too brown, so I removed them.

    The result? The center was cooked fine, but the outside was limp and completely uncrispy, despite having a fairly dark brown color, suggesting crispiness.

    If I had left them in longer at 375 they would have been totally brown by the time they got crispy.

    Should I:

    a) cook them longer the first time or
    b) set the second frying to a lower temp than 375 and cook them longer then? Or both?

    Mark
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd have gone with higher temps. 350 and 375 for the two fryings. And peanut or canola oil for vegetable oils, but boy, does lard have something really great to add to fries.

    phil
     
  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    The only things I see that you do differently than me is that you soak yours in ice water, I never soak or rinse mine and you fry them much longer for the first fry, at a higher temp. If I had to guess, it is this second thing that is causing your fries to not crisp up. I do my first fry at 300 just until I see the potatoes start to barely color, then I remove them and allow them to cool completely before my second frying at 350-375. What I think is happening is that you are cooking the fries too far the first time. If you cook them until they are starting to turn golden brown, you have already started to develop a crust that doesn't let excess moisture out. That first frying & resting lets out moisture, in the form of steam, so that it doesn't build up behind the crust you are trying to create, making it soggy. So try cooking them less, the first time around and see if that helps. Sorry, I can't give you times, but I have never timed it, I always good by the look of it.
     
  4. soussweets

    soussweets

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    i have found the only way to make a homemade fry truly crispy is to freeze them after the first blanching at about 350. freeze them spread out on parchment paper, then return to fryer at 350.
     
  5. markv

    markv

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    Pete:

    The only reason I soaked them in ice water is because a number of the recipes suggested doing so. But I have no problem eliminating that step.

    Mark
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    First soak the fries in salt water, then fry at 300F for 2 minutes. Remove, don't chill. Then fry at 375F until done.
     
  7. jock

    jock

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    In the bad old days when I was growing up in Scotland it seemed to me that almost every meal (especially lunch) was something with fries - or chips as we called them. Just about every household in the land had it's chip pan used exclusively for deep frying and complete with wire basket.
    I don't remember my mother going through all this palaver to make "chips". She peeled and cut the spuds then rubbed them in a kitchen towel to reduce splatted when they hit the hot fat. The fat was always lard which, as Phil says really does something for fries. She tested the temperature by sticking the end of a single potato stick in the fat and when it sizzled, it was hot enough. A once only fry for as long as it took to cook the potatoes and perfect fries every time.
    I can taste them now. Mmmm

    Jock
     
  8. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    A friend from France visited some years ago and made fries at my house. I had a heavy pan. She heated the vegetable oil over a medium-low heat and simmered the potatoes (cut more like 1/3" than 1/4"- maybe 1/2 a centimeter) until they just began to turn golden. She then took them out and let them sit on a plate, covered with paper toweling, until they cooled a bit, maybe 15 minutes.

    The potatoes when first fried had been patted dry and were at room temperature.

    When she was ready to fry them crisp, she turned up the heat to just above medium and waited until it was hot. She decided this by dipping one long fry into the oil. When bubbles trailed up its sides briskly, the oil was ready. She returned them carefully to the oil and fried them until they were nicely golden brown ("bien dore", she said).

    They were a different variety of potatoes from those I ate in France and Belgium, but still they were excellent: creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside. They didn't last long! :lips:
     
  9. katherine

    katherine

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    I find you can make french fries from almost any kind of potato, but some of them have a lot more water content (waxy types) than others (bakers). The initial frying at the lower temperature will drive off the extra moisture without prematurely browning the potatoes. I like to pre-fry them for a minute or two after they float. You can't really predict how long this will take in all, as it depends on the type and age of the potato.

    Then I fry them at the higher temp until brown and crispy.

    It would draw off moisture to soak them in salt water, too, but I like my salt up front, so I salt them after frying.
     
  10. marinboy

    marinboy

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    Wow, I haven't worked in too many hack restaurants but only one didn't serve french fries and it was a raw restaurant so couldn't. However, I have worked somewhere that served what I consider to be the best fries in the world. I know this is a bold statement, but try this and let me know what you think. First, slice russet potatoes as you described, 1/4" thick on a mandoline. Rinse them in a bowl under running water until all of the starch is removed... the water will be clear. Store them in this water until you are ready to do the next step and up to 2 days. Drain the water off of them well and put in clean 250 F peanut oil (we changed the oil daily and used our 2 chambered fryer only for these fries). Cook until almost all bubbling has stopped, from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the amount you're cooking. Drain well and cool to room temp. Fry for a second time in 350 F peanut oil for about 5 minutes or until golden... NOT BROWN. These light fries should be seasoned immediately and are the hallmark of lightness and crispness. Seriously Addictive! Let me know your opinion if anyone tries these methods! Great Fries/Chips are one of those elusive Perfect Foods in my opinion.
     
  11. fatchef

    fatchef

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    Fries are best left to fast food, but if you want to make them yourself...blanch! Par cook the just as Mc D's gets the off the truck.
     
  12. redace1960

    redace1960

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    reading this with great interest. I have 50-50 success with french fries. two things that taste good:
    use really old potatoes. the extra crispiness the shape adds maked it so much more than just puff potatoes.
    heres another vote for lard; alternatively, try out your own fat from beef suet. HEAVEN!!!!!
    one thing that doesn't-corn oil. i wouldnt grease an oxcart with it.
     
  13. castironchef

    castironchef

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    Hey Marinboy!

    Care to let us (or at least me) in on the place with the "best fries in the world?"

    I'm just up the road in Sonoma, so a short trip south for the best is definately in the cards.
     
  14. brb79

    brb79

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    Good atleast you know how to make french fries
    i just know how to eat them haha
    i only know how to make maggi noodles when i am hungry but i make them excellent
    and i know only to make tea
    both of thse things i have mastered over a period of time
     
  15. dealinhoz

    dealinhoz

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    wait, maggi noodles as in using maggi sauce? if it's what i'm thinking i love that stuff.
     
  16. shahar

    shahar

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    So many opinions for fries!

    I wash them otherwise they can turn brown/grey after the blanching. Also prevent them sticking into potato clusters later.
    I use cold water, but I heard indians use warm water. Any body ever broke the cold water taboo, and live to the tell the tale?

    Don't forget the sugar level in potatoes! High sugar ones will brown too quickly and get there before crisping.

    I work at one place that sold improbable amounts of fries. Sixty seats. Two thousand to four thousand pounds a week! All get peeled, cut, parred and fried on location! Everybody peels them, dishwasher cooks and on boring days servers.
     
  17. castlebravo242

    castlebravo242

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    You do need to let them cool between cookings. 1/8 inch or less only needs to be cooked once. I place mine on paper towles to get rid of most of the oil. I actually prefer to brine them before cooking and use olive oil, but it is too expensive. Canola is healthier than corn oil too much omega 6 fats.

    Bob
     
  18. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Good point (emphasis added in your quote)! Since I now only cook at home, and do my prep whenever I have the time, I sometimes cut the potatoes early in the day and refrigerate them in water. I also find that adding salt to the water improves the flavor.
     
  19. chefatl

    chefatl

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    Blanch at 270 then spread on a paper towel lined sheet pan in a single layer and allow to cool. Fry at 350 to order. Serve with house made mayo.