A few weeks ago I wrote about making sweet potato fries, but, truth be told, I also made French fries that night. My wife likes sweet potato fries, but I’m not the biggest fan, so I make French fries. There is a bit of an art to making fries, but with that in mind, you should be able to make them at home with very little skill or equipment.
I want to look at the history of French fries first. Some of us might recall a time when a US Politian, Bob Ney (R-Ohio), tried to rename them because they were upset with France’s refusal to support the US invasion of Iraq. The problem with his logic is that French fries are possibly not French. If you are shocked, you might not be alone. It is theorized that French fries came from Belgium, where they speak French. As the story goes, American soldiers were stationed in Belgium during WWI and brought back the idea of the slender fried sticks of potato. Of course, an alternative possibility is that fries did originate in France, and both countries, to this day, contest the origins. This wouldn’t be the first time a food was invented in multiple countries, but that’s another article. Regardless, I know I’m thankful that they were invested!
I always find it interesting how many recipes there are for the use of fries. Here in Canada, we are most famous for one of the most significant culinary additions to the world, poutine! Fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy must be up there for impressive culinary ideas. If it was invented today, I think we would all wonder why it wasn’t done years ago. We get to add it to the growing list of foods that Canada has brought to the world stage, including ginger beef, Donair, and Hawaiian pizza.
So, how does one make French fries? First, you will need a few pieces of hardware. If you do not own a deep frier, then use a large pot—something with the space to allow the fries to move around. You will also need a metal strainer, a pair of tongs, and a coffee filter. Add in a sharp knife and a lot of working space, and you should be able to make fries. For your oil, you can use a combination of products or just one. I use canola oil, but peanut oil or lard also work. You need an oil with a high smoke point, which means it doesn’t break down easily with heat. Coconut, grapeseed, olive, or avocado oils are not appropriate because they will burn as you heat them, and you’ll taste it. Get some canola oil; you’ll thank me later.
Next, you’ll need to buy russet potatoes. You could use other potatoes, but russets are the best for this application; besides, the russet is really the most versatile potato. If you want more information, check out any of the previous potato recipes I’ve written.
3-4 large russet potatoes
A large or medium bowl with cold water
A large bowl for serving
- Grab your potatoes and wash them off.
- Get a bowl and fill it up halfway with cold water.
- If you desire, peel the potatoes, then slice them into long strips. Try to keep them similar in size.
- After they have been cut, put the potatoes into the water and let them soak for at least one hour, but up to three.
- Pour out the water and dry off your fries.
- Pour some oil into a large pot, about half full. Heat the oil to 300–325F
- Once the oil has reached its temperature, start blanching them (partially cooking them) for around 4-5 minutes. Do this in batches if needed.
- Remove the fries with a metal strainer, or a straining spoon, onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
- Once all the fries are blanched, turn the heat up to 375–400F.
- After the oil is ready, fry the potatoes again until they are golden brown, again about 4 minutes, but it might be faster. The larger the potato, the longer the cooking time.
- When they are done, remove them from the oil into your service bowl and start salting until you’re happy with the flavour.
- Throw the ketchup out, because you won’t need it, these fries are the best thing you’ve made. I’m just kidding; if you really can’t do fries without ketchup, then go ahead.