In search of the perfect french fry

Joined Jun 1, 2011
I really want to make standout french fries from hand cut Idaho russet potatoes.  Crispoy on the outside, creamy on thje inside.  I'm close, but not quite there yet.  Here's my method:
  1. Cut fries and soak in water for about half hour
  2. Drain fries.  Blanch in 200 degree peanut oil for exactly 2 minutes
  3. Remove fries to sheet pan while I heat fryer to 350 degrees
  4. Fry fries in 350 degree peanut oil until golden brown
  5. season with kosher salt
They are really good tasting fries, but not AWESOME.  Not quite enough crisp enough.

Anyone have any secrets you are willing to share?
Joined Feb 17, 2010
John, I do fresh fries, but don't use peanut oil....too spendy for my application.

I cut, soak and rinse until the water runs clear, no more starch coming off the potato.

I blanch at 300, until tender, but no color, longer than the 2 min you are doing.

I was cooking at 375 but was not getting the crispness I wanted. Went to 350 for a longer cook time.

One other thing, I am always a day ahead on blanched fries, so I am cooking cold from the fridge.

Seems to work a little better. They have to be served immediately, or the frys go soft.  

 I use #2 russets, about one pound each, end up with 10 oz finished product.

The quality of the potato you get has allot to do with your end product, fresh, or cold storage, sugar content, starch content. I never get perfect fries, but close enough and my customers enjoy them.
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Joined Jan 5, 2007
In Scotland, the BEST chips (aka in the USA as French Fries) are cooked in lard.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
In the U.S., Mc Donald used to fry them in Suet. I've heard they were delicious, but never had a chance to try them. 
Joined May 24, 2009
Well I'll assume we are talking about pure technique, meaning I'll leave the exact potato variety and fat to you.  Reason being that FF should be cheap.  Duck fat is delicious but you could have fries made with soybean oil everyday...well sort of.

The first thing we need to consider is the cut.  Double Arches (who honestly will forget more about frying potatoes than we could ever hope to learn) use a 1/4" cut which is pretty small by restaurant standards.  This smaller cut means more overall surface area and thus more crust.  If you're into crust these are your guys.  I've settled on a 3/8" as my favorite cut.  This is a popular size for cutters and also good multipurpose.  Not so small that they will be compared to McDonalds while still having some plenty of crust.  They have enough of an interior that they can be creamy and can pass as "steak fries."

Now the method.  Blanch, Fry, Fry is the most widely accepted frying method and this is for good reason.  Its what McDonald's does (with a freeze between the two fryings).  I've seen others tack another fry on there but IMO they are taking something that's already a lot of work to do at home and making it worse.  Unless they are doing everything else right I can guarantee that the of fryings isn't the bottleneck.

Ok lets talk about Blanching.  You said you are blanching your fries for 2 minutes in boiling water.  That's a start but what if I told you that McDonalds blanches their fries for 15 minutes at 170 degrees F?  Not possible right?  That's way overcooked--but they do.  And I'll tell you what, its the secret to beautiful fluffy insides and wonderful potato flavor.  Also, salt your blanching water.  Now a constant 170 degrees isn't easy to do even in most commercial kitchens.  You could heat your water to the right temperature and then fill a cooler with it and blanch your fries in there... Or you could just do it at a boil which is close enough.  Since my fries are a little thicker, a little more temperature doesn't seem to hurt.  The downside is that by doing it at the higher temperature, your fries will almost be falling apart by the time you fry them.  Not to worry, creating the crust will strengthen them.  The last thing to consider while blanching them is to NEVER let the temperature drop below 176 degrees F.  Seriously.  Below this temperature an enzyme that strengthens the potatoes pectin is activated, leading to more starch and a plasticy crust that soaks up more oil and gets soggy faster.  To make sure your fries don't dip below that mark, bring them to a boil and don't add so many fries that the temp drops too much.

Lets back up a second.  I said the method was Blanch, Fry, Fry but I forgot an optional step--soak.  It is possible to create fries that are even delicious cold.  If you are REALLY hardcore google "Pectinex SP-L" and create a water solution containing .4% of this chemical.  It weakens pectin and releases starch to help even more with the stuff I described at the end of my last paragraph on blanching.

Finally you fry your fries.  350 for the first time and 375 for the second one works pretty good.  After the first fry, their will be a crust but the fry should still be blonde in color.  You may find some happy medium between these two temperatures that works for you where you only have to fry once but the purpose of this is to build a strong crust.  Again these are the same temperatures used by McDonalds!

NOTE: McDonald's does do one more step that I didn't mention.  They tumble dry their fries after blanching.  I find this step to be unnecessary and downright bad as our fries are more fragile than theirs since theirs are blanched right at 170 degrees F.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
We use one of those whatchacall smash-the-potato-through-the-grate type cutters. When I bought it I bought the larger of 2 sizes. Bolted the unit down to the counter and we make 50#'s of fries in 10 minutes. Lots of fun. We soak the fries in salt water for a day, rinse/dry them and bag them for the freezer; +/-5#'s/bag I think. We fry them up for 8-10 or so minutes @ 350*. I could be wrong on that time though. Salt 'em and serve 'em. Tasty, crunchy/chewy. I gotta agree, Micky D's does have good fries. 
Joined Feb 3, 2011
I like the rectangular shape 3/4 x 1/4. It's not as cost effective as 1/4 x 1/4 but it allows you to get lots of sauce if your dunking, holds the heat longer, and looks quite good in just about any situation. I also have seen 3 Heston fry potato chips 3 times all at 130*C, the last fry was quite long about 12 min from memory, but as benway suggested it was just to add colour.
Joined Jun 16, 2011
lets not forget the potato ...kinnebec potatoes in my opinon provide the perfect balance of waxyness and starchyness....blanch cool then fry the formula is simple the ingredient is key
Joined May 5, 2010
I question you Benway about McDonalds fries.

How come I'll see them tear open a bag of fries and pour them into the basket to fry them? 

I have never seen what you mention.

Now, I have, in my career, worked in many places that made their own fries.

The device that Gareth mentioned used to hang above the sink in one place I worked.

The guys would cut fries that would fall into the sink filled with water.

Then they would "blanch" the fries in 350 degree french fryer then allow them to drain on a wire mesh placed over sheet pans.

When orders came up, they would take what they need and fry them a 2nd time.

Salt them after they come out and that's it. 

For me at work, I fry them once and allow to drain on paper bag. Then fry a second time. I keep a stainless steel bowl in a 220 degree oven and after draining I toss them with salt in this bowl for service. I do not allow the fries to sit as that's how they become soft and mushy.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Every company and every person has the best way to make and cook fries. A prominent Restaurant Magazine just did a polol and the results wr\ere Wendy's were voted # 1 by the majority. What amazes me is the fries they are selling now are made from chopped and pressed or extruded potato mixed with eggwhite. Read the ingredients on a case of Sysco Stealth Fries. They are almost the same as potato tots or gems only chopped smaller and fed through a different die in the extruder machine. There has also been experimenting done here in Florida on an artificial Orange, I will find out more info re. these. Talk about ScyFy channel.
Joined Oct 2, 2010
- Choise of potatoes. This is imperative to make good frites. Look for potatoes with very little sugar in them! If they contain too much sugar, your frites will look darkbrown instead of golden as they should look, and they will be soggy and bwaaah, no dought...

- Choise of fat; best frites are still made in oxwhite (beef suet). They taste incredible. A more modern way is to use a good quality oil. I use a storebought combinationfat that contains mostly sunflower. Don't use the same fat for dozens of times! Always take small dark bits of frites out of the oil or it will turn the next batches somewhat bitter. I always sieve the oil after cooled.

- Cut your frites by hand in square sticks at 8-12 mm. The unequal sizes of handcut frites gives a lot of different textures which contributes to a better mouthfeel...

-  Just wash quickly but do NOT soak them! Dry the rinsed frites in a clean kitchentowel!!!! If not, the water will get under the oil and your fat may run over the fryer edge!

- Fry just a little frites at a time; 2 big handfuls is more than enough! I fill a very common deep plate to measure one batch, not too much heaped. That's also enough for 2 people.

- First, poach in oil at 150°C. Don't let the frites get a color. You can hear the changing of the frying sound when they are ready. Lift the basket up, take a frite between index and thumb and squeeze. When they're more or less easy to squeeze through, they're done for the first time. This poaching can take up to 8 minutes or longer. Exact timing is nonsense, just do the squeeze test a few times to be sure.

- Leave the frites to cool entirely; spread them on a large (oven)tray, they will cool very quickly. Time to make mayo, a must with frites.

- Raise temperature to 180°C. Again don't overcrowd the fryer! Fry the frites in just a minute or so until golden, NOT brown. Again, you can simply hear from the changing of frying sound of the frites when they are ready.

Enjoy, and, greetings from the frites country par excellence!

One last remark; make your own frozen frites portions. After poaching for the first time and cooling, portion and bag them and put in your freezer. Ready to use and 1000 times better than that commercial junk.
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Joined Aug 26, 2010
McDonald's fries come from the McDonald's processor.  Everything is done to the fries except the final fry before they ever get to the restaurant.
I question you Benway about McDonalds fries.

How come I'll see them tear open a bag of fries and pour them into the basket to fry them? 

I have never seen what you mention.
Joined May 24, 2009
The reason you've seen McDonald's open a bag of frozen fries and dump them in the fryer is because that's exactly what happened.  You just witnessed the final fry from the blanch, fry, (freeze), fry process.  Everything prior is done in a central facility.

As I said before, once you start getting into choosing the potato variety and the oil the perfect fry starts to get crazy.  The process I've described above works for many varieties of potato and any frying oil (I'll second the beef tallow though).  McDonald's potato needs are so large that even they don't use just one variety.

The process I described above is nearly the same as the McDonald's but without the preservatives, the addition of a soak in Pectinex SP-L, a different cut on the fries, a more practical blanching temperature and I season the blanching water with 3% salt to season the thicker fries from within.

I'll put my fries against any, as I said they are even good cold.  Somewhere along the way I decided that to be a great cook, one should be able to take on double arches, arguably the best restaurant in the world, at what they do best.  Now if only I could beat their ice cream--but that is a different post.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
One of the how is it made shows did a segment on french fries. They were cut, soaked as they made their way through running water chutes to move them through the factory then steamed until tender then flash frozen.
Joined Jun 1, 2011
Thanks to all, lots of good suggestions, more things to try.  Thias is my project for next week so I'll let you know what I come up with.
Joined Apr 19, 2011
Hi John, I made more fries then I wish to remember but here's my trick, as ChefBubba says make them a day ahead and make sure they are washed clean. Blanch as he said then spread out on a pan sheet and freeze them. Now while frozen dip in sugar water bath and drain before final fry you can do this and leave them in fry baskets ready to go if you need to make a large amount at one sitting but don't let them sit out for more than an hour. You can also leave them in the walkin and use them for most of the day. Hope it works for you. 
Joined Jun 17, 2011
Hello, this is the original french fries recipe used in France and Belgium in the better restaurant ...

sorry for my english i ll try to explain well thank you...

1. the potatoes choice

Take the potatoes a little mealy, with us the variety used is the universal, abundant.

Potatoes are too newly harvested under good fries, the potato should have some experience

2. The choice of fat

Formerly (before 60 years), the fries are manufactured with beef fat (white beef). Since new mixed fat frying Special emerged, and especially recommended oils to be heated. Such as peanut oil. Never use oils for salads, they decompose on heating and produce unhealthy molecules.

3. procedure

Peel the potatoes, then cut them into slices 8 to 10 mm thick, then cut each slice into sticks. Section is square.
Dip the raw fries in cold water, and wash them! This is intended to dissolve the excess starch that spoil your fat or oil in your cooking. Then dry them, wipe them with a cloth altogether, also as important step to prevent bubbles of fat burning during the first dive, there is no point to evaporate the water in the fat. It is now ready to dive for the first time. Do not wait for hours, fries oxidizes in contact with air and yellow.

You must have a deep fryer. Kind of pan fitted with a basket inside. If you can not get the pan, a pot will do, we will use a drainer (shovel with holes) to remove the chips, but it is not ideal.
Dip the fries, and especially do not put too much at once, they should be free to travel in the fat by the movement of convection. Interfere with the cooking too.
The fat must be hot, (160, 170 ° C) before diving. (No thermostat, fried to a raw and waiting, when she began singing (to make bubbles) is the right temperature ...). Dip the fries. After a few seconds of small bubbles begin to appear and they will grow as you go. The chips are based on the bottom of the fryer. Question: how long? Impossible to say since we do not know the amount of chips, the amount of fat or the cooking instrument, but the signs are obvious. When the first friteauront tend to rise to the surface let another minute, and then take them out and let drain.
Do so during the drainage, raise the temperature to 180-190 ° C. The first dive was to cook the center of the fried, the second will aim to make the crust golden. After two or three minutes to drain, immerse the fries. It will be a heat shock for the brown. Normally at this stage, the chips tend to float on the fat. Take them out when they are golden brown. It is the color that decides. Not too pale (it would not be crunchy), not too brown (it irritate the teeth).
Well, more to say than done. It is often several batches, sometimes we cook all the french fries the first time in several passages (2 or 3 typical for a family), then plunges them all a second time in several passages. The time between the first and second dive is not critical. In fact the only, the real trick is the double cooking, a first cook at medium temperature for the heart, and the other at higher temperature to brown the outside.

Joined Apr 24, 2011
In our house, we like oven baked. 

Wedged Yukon Golds on a tray, drizzled with the EVOO,

a sprinkle of fine sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper

and lastly granulated garlic. 

Pop them into a hot oven, turning every so often and then, LET’S EAT! 

We like a dipper of tartar sauce.  (maybe even a chocolate shake to dip into if you feel devil-ish)

Ops, that sounds like roasted potatoes. 

Either way, they’re ONO!!
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