making good potato chips (french fries)

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Mr Herbert, May 22, 2011.

  1. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    I remember America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country recommended boiling the potatoes first for a few minutes, then ultimately dumping them in uncooked oil and then removing them sometime after it starts frying. This isn't exact, but the lesson was it's better than dumping them in already hot oil.
     
  2. M.D.

    M.D. Well-Known Member

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    You're baking these these things? Red card, man. If you were frying them, soaking is key, as Manton said, to stop oxidization (the reason restaurants just roll up a bin over the wall-mount fry cutter and drop fries into the water-filled bin immediately) and also because you don't those things sticking together when they're frying. The insides should soften, but you need that slight water vs oil dance to get the outsides crispy and sealed.

    I assume I didn't use the right word, I'm frying them? They were already fried (or soaked?) for 7-8 min @ 160°C, they still need to be fried for an additional 2-3 min @ 180°C
     
  3. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    The man who ate everything has a rather lengthey essay about this. Horse tallow is apparently rxceptional for fries.
     
  4. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    I've tried numerous methods for cooking french fries, from the double-fry, freeze-then-fry, freeze-then-double-fry, saltwater bath-then-fry, et al. They've all been fairly successful. The best and accordingly most ridiculous sounding way to cook french fries at home in my experience comes from Mark Bittman. It's quite simple: 1. Peel and cut russet potatoes to desired length and thickness. Dry thoroughly. 2. Place in medium to deep frying pan or cast iron pot. 3. Fill with neutral high-temperature cooking oil (I use canola) to cover the top of the potatoes. 4. Turn heat on low to medium-low. 5. Cook for approximately 45mins to 1hr until golden brown* 6. Drain on paper towels or brown paper bags. Season to taste. *Quoted time is for medium-thickness (1/2" to 3/4" steak fries) Complete anathema. Time and time again we've been taught to always bring the oil to cooking temperature, even slightly above to account for heat dispersion after the potatoes are dropped into the oil. We've been taught that a good amount of oil is essential to heat retention. Bittman's method was so ridiculous that I couldn't resist trying it out. Now there's no other way that I would cook french fries at home for casual meals. You would think that in this way, the potatoes are simply soaking up the oil. To the contrary, the low temperature allows the potato to cook slowly from within. The temperature rises over the ~1hr period to allow for the development of a crisp exterior at the finish. I prefer this method for the great quality of the french fry and the overall cleanliness of the process: no large quantities of hot oil and barely if any "oil smell" in the air. It's marginally safer too, without the risk of oil splatter at the initial stage of cooking (if the potatoes are dried thoroughly of course). I think the main reason why most recipes call for double-frying at high temperatures is because this process is necessary for restaurants where time is of supreme importance. At home, in general, there aren't 50 guests waiting on an order, nor will the oil be reused immediately, so the above method is preferable as well for these reasons.
    I'm intrigued. Going to try this now. Will post results. edit: worked great, will post pics after dinner.
     
  5. mordecai

    mordecai Immoderator

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    I cut to about 1/4" soak for about 3 or 4 hours before the first frying. First at about 340, second at about 390. Toss with corn starch before second frying. They come out perfect.
     
  6. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    Here my results from the cold oil approach. They were great and very easy. I let them cook a minute or two longer than I should have - Next time I will take them out when they start to brown. They were nice and crisp and despite what i thought, were not oily at all. It also uses much less oil than normal frying would, so cleanup was a bit easier too. I will definitely do it again.

    Cut, rinsed, and under oil:
    [​IMG]

    Cooking:
    [​IMG]

    Done, right after coming out of the oil:
    [​IMG]

    Close up of a fry:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    ^^ looks burnt to me [​IMG]
     
  8. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    I let them cook a minute or two longer than I should have - Next time I will take them out when they start to brown.
    ^^ looks burnt to me [​IMG]
    I tend to like my fries crispy, but yes they were overcooked. They weren't burnt to a cinder though, no charcoal flavor, and they tasted good. Also - I think part of the darkness on the fries is where I left the skin on the ends. Seems to have darkened quicker than the rest.
     
  9. NAMOR

    NAMOR Senior member

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    Two things not mentioned: they must be absolutely dry before they go into the oil or else you will have a volcano on your hands. Since cut potatoes need to be held in water until they are ready to use, otherwise they will oxidize, this means you need to hand dry them before you fry. Second, use a big pot of oil. A common mistake people make is to use a pot that is just big enough to hold the fries. The problem with this is, there is not enough stored heat in a small pot, so when you drop the fries in, the temperature will plunge and they won't cook properly. A big pot has enough heat in it to ensure that the oil stays hot after you drop the fries. Yes, peanut oil is best IMO but any neutral oil is OK. Cook twice as noted: first time to blanch, second to brown and crisp. Temp for the first fry should be around 300, 350 for the second. They need several minutes the first time but about a minute or two the second time. They should still be quite white when they come out of the oil the first time. The second time, just go by sight. When they look like the color you want, take them out. Lay them out on paper towels and salt immediately, when you can still see the oil glistening. Give them a good shake and let them cool down a bit.
    Important. Make sure the oil is hotter the second go around. Otherwise you are better off leaving them in the entire time.
     
  10. NAMOR

    NAMOR Senior member

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    soak is a must double fry, give it a rest inbetween on a drainer.
    why do they need to rest? and what is the ideal length of time?
     
  11. GreenFrog

    GreenFrog Senior member

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    ^^^ those fries look delicious (albeit, slightly too brown for my liking, but i bet they tasted awesome!)
     
  12. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    That Bittman method looks interesting. Might have to give that a try.

    You guys have think the methods above would hold up for sweet potato fries? They are my fry-grail.
     
  13. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    That Bittman method looks interesting. Might have to give that a try.

    You guys have think the methods above would hold up for sweet potato fries? They are my fry-grail.


    I saw a post on e-gullet or chowhound in regards to the Bittman/Steingarten/Robechon method where someone said their sweet potato fries turned out much better than their regular ones. Worth a try at least. You don't need much oil, and there's really not a mess.
     
  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I just realized that I don't wash or soak after cutting. I just make sure to work quickly and get them in the oil the first time before they color. Not sure why, exactly.
     
  15. Douglas

    Douglas Stupid ass member

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    of course it's tough to tell b/c those are overcooked, and also because i can't actually eat them, but those look really soggy to me, and not like the crisp airy fries i prefer to eat.
     

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