And shouldn't every day be French Fry Day?! Oh man, they are my weakness ... all the crunchiness and the saltiness is so comforting and satisfying.
I rarely made them at home until this last year when I read some instructions from Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen that were too weird to not try! Turns out she read about the method in Cook's Illustrated which is an excellent source of cooking techniques and recipes because they test everything about a thousand times before publishing! Until I found Deb's experience with the "easiest French Fries", I always thought it was way too much trouble to make them at home because of all the choosing the right potato, cutting them up, rinsing them, drying them, cleaning up the grease ... Way too much work for what was usually a lackluster result. So I left the endeavor to the restaurants and satisfied myself with my best roast potatoes.
Deb's instructions were simple and not fussy. Just cut the potatoes ... Yukon Golds are the first part of the secret ... into quarter-inch julienne, put them straight into the pot, cover them with peanut oil, and turn the pot on.
I worried that this would make the potatoes absorb more of the oil, but when I emptied the oil back into the bottle, it almost filled back up to the top proving that very little had absorbed. You can reuse the oil, too ... let it cool completely, then funnel it into a glass jar or bottle.
Once the oil comes to a boil, set the timer for 20 minutes, and keep yourself from stirring the pot!
My favorite tool for stirring and removing the fries is a flat strainer like this one.
Once the 20 minutes are up, you can stir them around a bit and determine if they are fried golden enough for you. If not, just leave them till they are the color you want. I like some extra crispy ones here and there as well as some creamy ones, too, but I'll fight for the crispies!
Dip them out onto a sheet pan lined with a paper sack or paper towels and immediately douse them with salt. In my book, fine sea salt is the only salt for French fries. Dipping sauces are totally not necessary, but they can sure up the ante a bit .... ranch dressing, ketchup, tartar sauce, BBQ sauce, the Belgian standard mayonnaise ... and one of my favorites is Sriracha Mayo. Just mix as much sriracha into the mayo for the level of spiciness you want.
You don't even need to put the fries on a platter or in a bowl. Just plop the sheet tray down right in the middle of the table, gather around, and dig in!
French Fry Day Fries
- 2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes about 6 medium
- 6 cups peanut oil if you want to change up the taste, add in some bacon or duck fat
- Fine sea salt
- Cover a large baking sheet with paper towels or paper bags to drain the fries on.
- Scrub potatoes and dry them well. Without peeling, cut into ¼-inch batons. Place in a 4 to 5-quart heavy, deep frying pan or Dutch oven and add oil; it will barely cover the potatoes. I love to use my cast-iron Dutch oven for this!
- Turn burner to high and bring oil to a boil, which will take about 5 minutes. Cook potatoes for another 15 minutes. Do not stir because they will break. At this point, you can use tongs or a thin spatula to gently scrape loose any potatoes that have stuck to the pan. You might find the ones at the bottom of the pan are darker than the ones near the top. Not to worry, just move them around a bit.
- Continue to cook, stirring only if absolutely necessary, for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until crisp and as golden as you like them. Use a large slotted spoon or flat strainer to scoop the fries from the oil. Spread them on the prepared baking sheet and immediately sprinkle them with the salt.
- You can keep fries warm in a 200 degree oven but the texture is really best right from the fryer.