At EVOO we try to make as much of our food in house as possible, French Fries are no exception to this. Even if Thomas Keller, one of the best chefs in the world, cops-out using frozen fries at his Napa Valley restaurant Bouchon. His reasons are valid, however, in my opinion, still a cop-out. Consistency, space and labor cost are the reasons he mentions. You could use those same excuses for many labor intensive menu preparations, with that same mind set why not just open a jar of soup base instead of making homemade stocks? Or, just buy pre-cut veggies. I’m sure they use a lot more fries than we do, however, I refuse to bend on this.
How to make great French Fries
Start with the right potato.
Potatoes are inconsistent, just like any other vegetable. Where and how they are grown, what the weather conditions were during a particular growing season, what temperature and humidity the potatoes are stored at after harvest, and how long they have been stored for, all play a part in how the fries will turn out.
For our fries we use Russet potatoes from Idaho, they are the right size and most importantly have the most consistent sugar-starch ratio. If the potato is too starchy the fries will be light in color, with a dry, starchy texture. On the other hand if the potato has too much sugar, they will fry-up too dark, be mushy on the inside and won’t have the desired crisp exterior.
To peel or not to peel?
It’s a personal preference and we peel’em. The biggest reason we peel them is to be able to remove any blemishes that may be hiding under the skin which could add an off flavor to the fries. Other than that we just think they look better peeled.
Soak them taters.
After the potatoes are hand cut we soak them in water overnight. We cover the cut fries with hot tap water then refrigerate them overnight. This removes excess starch and slightly softens the potatoes before their initial fry.
Cook twice, to make’em nice.
For the best fries you have to fry them twice. First at low temperature, followed by a quick fry at high temp to crisp and heat just before serving.
Choose the right oil.
The best oil for fries is peanut oil, because of allergies we do not use peanut oil. We use Canola Oil, which works well; it has a high smoke point and a mild, clean flavor. Other good for non-vegetarians options are lard and duck fat. Lard has a stigma of unhealthiness and duck fat is quite expensive, however both fats make great fries.
Aged fries are the best fries.
After the first low temp fry you need to “age” your fries before frying them again. You just spread the fries out on a baking sheet and let them air-dry for a few hours, then place them in a covered container and refrigerate for a few days. I find 3-5 days best. The aging dries out the outside of the fries, making it so when they are high-heat fried the second time they will have a nice crispy exterior.
EVOO’s French Fry Recipe
3 lbs russet potatoes
2 qts oil for frying
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Chopped herb of choice. At EVOO we switch between Savory and Thyme, depending on what’s available from local farms; Rosemary also works very well.
Peel or don’t peel the potatoes, cut them into french fry shape. place the cut potatoes into a large container and cover them with hot tap water. Place the potatoes into the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
Pre-heat the frying oil to 270 degrees, if you are using a pot on your stove make sure your pot has tall sides and don’t fill more than a quarter of the way with oil. A tall sided 2 gallon pot filled with 2 quarts of oil would work nicely.
Fry the potatoes in three batches, each batch will take 8 to 12 minutes, you will know they are ready when the potatoes are cooked through and have small bubbles on the sides of the fries. If the potatoes have a high sugar content they will also brown slightly.
Spread the cooked fries out on a baking sheet for at least a couple of hours. Then, place the potatoes in a covered container in your refrigerator for a few days. I think 3-5 days is best.
After the fries are “aged” pre-heat your oil, the same amount in the same size pot, to 350 degrees. Frying the fries in batches again, fry each batch for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with kosher salt, pepper and herbs. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce. At EVOO we make our own ketchup, our version has a bit of a chipotle kick to it and has no corn syrup.