1. Heat a neutral oil with a high smoke point to 300 degrees in a deep pot. While the oil heats, cut the potatoes using a chef’s knife. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and then place each half, cut-side down on the cutting board. Slice each potato half into half-inch slices, then cut those slices into long rectangular strips that are about a half-inch on all sides and two inches long. 00:44
2. Place the potato pieces into a large mixing bowl filled with cold water. With your hands, toss the potatoes in the water. This encourages the potatoes to release starches into the water, which helps them cook more evenly. The potatoes are done when the water looks milky. 01:33
3. After rinsing, spread the potatoes onto one half of a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or paper towels. Be sure the potatoes are in a flat, even layer. Fold the other half of the parchment paper over the potatoes and pat them over the paper. Try to absorb any residual water remaining on the potatoes. 03:08
4. After drying, take one fry and test the oil. Do this by carefully dipping one end of the fry into the oil and watching how much the oil bubbles around the fry. The oil is the right temperature if the bubbles are small and the oil doesn’t pop too much. 03:39
5. Gently add the fries to the oil using a spider strainer. Using the spider, stir the fries around in the oil. Occasionally scoop out a few fries and check their color. Once the fries are a light golden color, remove them from the oil and place them back on the lined sheet tray. Let the fries cool down to about room temperature. 03:55
6. While the fries cool, turn the heat on the oil up to about 350 degrees. Once the fries are cool enough to handle and the oil is heated to temperature, place the fries on the spider strainer and transfer them back into the oil. Stir them in the oil to ensure even cooking. The fries are done cooking when the bubbles in the oil start to subside and the outsides of the fries are golden brown. 05:50
7. When the fries are done, remove them from the oil and place them back on the sheet tray in an even layer. While the fries are still hot, season them with salt. Be sure to sprinkle salt from high above the fries to ensure even coverage. Toss the fries on the sheet tray to coat all sides in the salt. Serve immediately. 07:29
What You'll Need
- Deep pot
- Large mixing bowl
- Spider strainer
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Sheet tray
- Parchment paper or paper towels
- Russet or kennebec potatoes, washed (1 1/2 potatoes per person)
- Water for soaking
- Salt to taste
- Neutral oil for frying
Though the name may imply French origins, there is much dispute about where the french fry originated. Some sources insist that french fries actually originated in 17th century Belgium. It was common at the time for people in Belgium to fry small fish and use them as a staple in their meals. However when rivers froze in the winter it was difficult to get fish, so some people cut potatoes into thin pieces and fried them to stand in for the fish. Others say that french fries began in France when the famine of 1785 made the potato a popular food. It was after this time that the potato’s use in French cuisine skyrocketed and some people began frying and selling potatoes as “frites” from push carts on the streets.
It is essential to use an oil with a high smoke point to cook french fries. To learn more about smoke points and the different oils available to cook with, visit Chef Michael Sichel’s “An Overview of Cooking Oils” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.
Chef Tynan stresses the importance of seasoning french fries while they are still hot and making sure to get an even coat of salt on the fries. To learn more about the basics of seasoning, visit Chef Bryon Freeze's "An Overview of Seasoning” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.