Dish of French Fried Potatoes
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French Fried Potatoes
North America

14 ounces  
2 hr  
Fries in France were traditionally round slices. Stick shaped fries are said to have been typical of Belgium (see History). This recipe is based on intensive research done by J. Kenji López-Alt on making fries competitive with McDonalds in the home (see McDonalds and Method).


Potatoes (1)  
Oil (2)
Prep   -   (1-1/2 hrs - 20 min work)
  1. Peel POTATOES and cut into French Fries about 1/4 inch on a side, but not greater than 3/8 inch. Place in a pot with 2 qt Water, then stir in 2 T Vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain well, and set out on paper towels to dry for about 10 minutes or more.
  2. In a Kadhai, Wok or other suitable deep fry container, bring Oil up to 400°F/200°C. Fry Potatoes in batches that are not crowded in the oil for 50 seconds only. OK, my antique stove can't quite maintain 360°F, so I give them 60 seconds. Drain and place on paper towels. Bring the oil back to 400°F and do the next batch, until all are done. Let them cool for at least 30 minutes.
  3. The Fries can be frozen at this point. Freeze them in a single layer, then pack into plastic bags. When needed, they can be fried without thawing. Freezing actually improves the quality of the finished fries, and they can go into the hot oil without thawing.
Run   -   (25 min (3 batches))
  1. Heat the Oil back to 400°F and fry the Fries in batches, and over sufficient heat to keep the oil at about 360°F/180°C. Watch the color carefully. The fries should be fished out and drained when a medium blonde. They should never be darker than shown in the photo. Fish them out with a Spider, which will take much less oil with them than other devices. Salt to taste immediately, and let drain on paper towels.
  2. While additional batches are being fried, you can hold Fries in a 200°F/93°C oven, if desired.
  1. When all done, filter your oil through paper towels and store in a glass jar or metal can away from heat and light so it is good for several more batches, or you can use it for other frying jobs, including pan frying.
  1. Potatoes:   Only Russets (Baking Potatoes) should be considered for French Fries, as they can produce the desired fluffy interior and crisp crust. For details see our Potatoes page.
  2. Oil:   You need a very durable high temperature Oil, and enough of it so the batches of whatever size you wish to fry are not crowded and don't cool the oil too much. A quart is about minimum for 2 pounds of raw fries done in three batches. Mr. López-Alt prefers Peanut Oil, which at 19% saturated fats gives better mouth feel than, say, Canola at 7%. I use Olive Pomace Oil, 15% saturated but with 1/3 the amount of rancidity prone polyunsaturated oils compared to Peanut Oil. Avocado oil has 20% saturated and as little polyunsaturated as Olive Pomace. For details see our Oils Chart.
  3. McDonalds:   The fries served by the McDonalds chain are famous for their quality and ability to stay crisp. Their method is impractical in the home because it involves soaking the raw fries for exactly 15 minutes in a large amount of water held at exactly 170°F/76.7°C. This stiffens the surface of the fries, removes surface sugars and makes the interior fluffier. They are then given a short deep fry, flash frozen, and bagged for shipment.
  4. Method:   J. Kenji López-Alt has developed a method providing results similar to McDonalds, but more practical for home use. He uses an effect I'd discovered many years ago, but had mainly avoided rather than used. A controlled amount of acid in the initial cooking water stiffens the surface of the fries, while the surface sugars (which cause premature browning) are washed away, the interior gets fluffy, and frying time is greatly reduced. A good fry has a thick crisp outer shell, even 10 or more minutes out of the oil. It snaps rather than bending even 5 minutes or more out of the oil, is fluffy inside and never hollow.
  5. History:   The earliest reference to "fried potatoes" in France is from 1775, which blows away a number of origin stories. The original "French Fry" was a round slice, as attested by Thomas Jefferson (1802) and E.Warren (England 1856). They were certainly still round in North America at the birth of the Saratoga Chip (Potato Chip). It is said that stick shaped fries were typical of Belgium, where they were served to American soldiers during WW I (1918). The soldiers thought they were still in France, and upon return to North America, demanded "French Fries".
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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