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Home-Cooked French Fries


Waitman
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Ode to fries.  First, I wonder who had the beautiful thought to throw some sliced potatoes in some hot fat.  They should be awarded the highest of all high honors.

I seem to recall that, during the whole "Freedom Fries" thing, the French issued a collective Gallic snicker and said "stupeed Americahns, eet was les Belgiques who invented the frite, not les French."

And, in case you were wondering, the best frites in the metro area are served Chez Waitman on those rare occassions when Mrs. B decides she can stand to allow that much deep-frying on the kitchen and I decide to risk fingertip and palm on the mandoline. The thumb heals, the memories remain.

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And, in case you were wondering, the best frites in the metro area are served Chez Waitman on those rare occassions when Mrs. B decides she can stand to allow that much deep-frying on the kitchen and I decide to risk fingertip and palm on the mandoline. The thumb heals, the memories remain...

Mr. Shorter could give you a run for your money. His frites are perfect.

I am with Mrs. B on the deep frying though. It's seriously a bad idea without a adequate ventilation system.

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I use the 2-stage method suggested by Russ Parsons in "How to Read a French Fry." The initial fry is at 325F. The second at 375F. A digtial read thermometer is real handy when doing this. (In fact, I just made some on Saturday evening).

I used russett potatoes and peanut oil.

We do our first fry a little lower, maybe 275, although the temperature of the oild fluctuates pretty significantly when you dump a handful of 'taters straight from the icewater into the pot. I'm not persuaded that the precision makes a ton of difference compared to greater necessity of adopting the two-step , low-high strategy.

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We do our first fry a little lower, maybe 275, although the temperature of the oild fluctuates pretty significantly when you dump a handful of 'taters straight from the icewater into the pot.    I'm not persuaded that the precision makes a ton of difference compared to greater necessity of adopting the two-step , low-high strategy.

I agree with this statement. I actually heated the oil to aobut 335 before I put the potatoes in. The temp dropped to about 275 and stayed there for quite a while before starting to move back up. They really brown up quick when you add the pre-cooked potatoes to the higher temp oil.

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Soooooo who has the best frites in the DC area, preferably in MD?

I gotta say, they smell a bit and take some time, but the frites you make at home are going to be better than any you get out. And you guests' jaws will drop. In combo with grilled beef? Unbelievable.

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I gotta say, they smell a bit and take some time, but the frites you make at home are going to be better than any you get out. And you guests' jaws will drop. In combo with grilled beef? Unbelievable.

I disagree. cooking at home without proper ventilation sucks

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I gotta say, they smell a bit and take some time, but the frites you make at home are going to be better than any you get out. And you guests' jaws will drop. In combo with grilled beef? Unbelievable.

I would agree, if I knew how/where to get such thinly cut fries....or do you just cut a normal potato in to the size you want? What is the best potato to do this with?

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I would agree, if I knew how/where to get such thinly cut fries....or do you just cut a normal potato in to the size you want? What is the best potato to do this with?

I've only done it once, but slicing was probably the easiest step, with my mandoline slicer. Just be very, very careful.

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The latest issue of Cooks Illustrated has a new method for doing french fries: french fry cut Yukons put into room temp peanut (or canola/veg) oil, then onto the heat for ~25 minutes. Supposedly the inside is still done, with a crispy outside; and as a bonus, the fries soak up less oil so they are slightly lower in calories.

The process seems more convenient then dealing with two separate fry sessions at different temps, especially since I usually have to make two batches. As far the outcome, well, Cooks Illustrated says they are just as good. Of course many people have issues with their opinions, and I'm sure regarding fries, those opinions are strong.

Only one way to find out I guess...

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Supposedly the inside is still done, with a crispy outside; and as a bonus, the fries soak up less oil so they are slightly lower in calories.
This sounds weird. I mean I know they're more firm at room temp, but I always thought that it was when you fried at a hot enough temp it sealed off the outside instantly not allowing the oil to permeate to the inside. This sounds more like a long soak in oil.
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I would agree, if I knew how/where to get such thinly cut fries....or do you just cut a normal potato in to the size you want? What is the best potato to do this with?

I usually use your basic bakers and I believe that's what are generally recommended, due to their "ideal" starch/moisture relationship.

I've only done it once, but slicing was probably the easiest step, with my mandoline slicer. Just be very, very careful.

I use a mandolin when my wife's not in the kitchen (she hates the sight of blood) and a knife when she is.

The latest issue of Cooks Illustrated has a new method for doing french fries: french fry cut Yukons put into room temp peanut (or canola/veg) oil, then onto the heat for ~25 minutes. Supposedly the inside is still done, with a crispy outside; and as a bonus, the fries soak up less oil so they are slightly lower in calories.

The process seems more convenient then dealing with two separate fry sessions at different temps, especially since I usually have to make two batches. As far the outcome, well, Cooks Illustrated says they are just as good. Of course many people have issues with their opinions, and I'm sure regarding fries, those opinions are strong.

Only one way to find out I guess...

Without commenting on the merits of the fries, since I haven't eaten them, I confess to liking the two-step process, as you can finish the fries really quickly while everything else is going onto the table, rather than having one more thing to time against when the steak will be done, the guests will arrive, the salad needs to be dressed etc.
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The latest issue of Cooks Illustrated has a new method for doing french fries: french fry cut Yukons put into room temp peanut (or canola/veg) oil, then onto the heat for ~25 minutes. Supposedly the inside is still done, with a crispy outside; and as a bonus, the fries soak up less oil so they are slightly lower in calories.

The process seems more convenient then dealing with two separate fry sessions at different temps, especially since I usually have to make two batches. As far the outcome, well, Cooks Illustrated says they are just as good. Of course many people have issues with their opinions, and I'm sure regarding fries, those opinions are strong.

Only one way to find out I guess...

I've tried this. Jeffrey Steingarten has a piece on it in one of his books, crediting it to Joel Robuchon (I think they credited him in the CI article too). It does work, is very easy, and can cut down on the time you need to have hot oil on the stove (thus reducing the smell problem a bit). However, I thought the crust was a bit thick and the fries were slightly greasy. The CI solution is to use yukon golds. Might have to try it again.

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However, I thought the crust was a bit thick and the fries were slightly greasy. The CI solution is to use yukon golds. Might have to try it again.

Acroding to the article, yukons - having less starch - led to a thinner crust when compared to a russet cooked the same way.

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For the 2-step method, folks, how long is the first fry? How long is the second? I'd assume that the latter would be until they look done, so it is really the former I am most interested in.

And what is this about ice water? Don't potatoes soak up water if they are dunked in it?

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I look forward to trying these frozen fries.

This is what I grew up with in Brooklyn, either in my own home or at the numerous luncheonettes in my neighborhood (from the 60s). My realization that frozen food could be better than fresh food came about 15 years ago when I went to the famed Carnegie Deli in Manhattan for the first time. Of course, I ordered the knish since I love knishes. Well, the knish was homemade and fresh and I guess it was okay, but it didn't hold a candle to the frozen ones heated up at the Kosher delis or sold by the vendors at Coney Island when I was a kid.

I don't like McDonald's fries for they just taste fried, but I have had frozen fries that had a specific frozen potato-y taste that I really enjoy. Call it a guilty pleasure....one I hope to enjoy at Ray's Hellburger.

Square knish or round? I'm a square knish kinda girl. I lived in NY as a kid and fondly remember getting the square knishes from street cart vendors. And yes, they had been the previously kind. You can still get these in some stores around here in the freezer section. nom.

And as for frozen fries, if anyone can make fries, fresh or frozen, taste great, it would would be Landrum.

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I look forward to trying these frozen fries.

This is what I grew up with in Brooklyn, either in my own home or at the numerous luncheonettes in my neighborhood (from the 60s). My realization that frozen food could be better than fresh food came about 15 years ago when I went to the famed Carnegie Deli in Manhattan for the first time. Of course, I ordered the knish since I love knishes. Well, the knish was homemade and fresh and I guess it was okay, but it didn't hold a candle to the frozen ones heated up at the Kosher delis or sold by the vendors at Coney Island when I was a kid.

I don't like McDonald's fries for they just taste fried, but I have had frozen fries that had a specific frozen potato-y taste that I really enjoy. Call it a guilty pleasure....one I hope to enjoy at Ray's Hellburger.

sorry, double posted
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Frozen fries are good enough for Keller.

Bouchon

"One of the top reasons Bouchon uses frozen French Fries is consistency. The quality of the frozen fries we use, and that of frozen fries in general today, is very good. We use fries which are 100% potato, which do not contain additives. The consistency in these fries is often better than that of fresh potatoes"

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Frozen fries are good enough for Keller.

Bouchon

"One of the top reasons Bouchon uses frozen French Fries is consistency. The quality of the frozen fries we use, and that of frozen fries in general today, is very good. We use fries which are 100% potato, which do not contain additives. The consistency in these fries is often better than that of fresh potatoes"

Interesting that you would post this. Post #177 in the Las Vegas thread on here is from me and it is about the fries at Bouchon:

Posted 21 March 2008 - 05:02 PM

"Bouchon was an incredible disappointment. The single worst version of moules et frites ($26.50) that I have ever had: stringy, tough, bound to the shell with fries that I swear were frozen."

Also, in the article you linked yourself above just after Thomas Keller "selling" frozen french fries:

"Frozen is better than fresh? Tell that to Telepan owner and Haute Barnyard guru Bill Telepan. “The frozen ones have a strange edge to them from all the things they add — like sugar and starch and hydrogenated oil — to make them crispy. It’s so easy to make fresh French fries, I can't imagine why anyone would do anything else. The only possible reason is cost.” —Daniel Maurer

I am not a fan of frozen french fries.

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Frozen fries are good enough for Keller.

Bouchon

"One of the top reasons Bouchon uses frozen French Fries is consistency. The quality of the frozen fries we use, and that of frozen fries in general today, is very good. We use fries which are 100% potato, which do not contain additives. The consistency in these fries is often better than that of fresh potatoes"

Come on, what does Keller know? :(

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Interesting that you would post this. Post #177 in the Las Vegas thread on here is from me and it is about the fries at Bouchon:

Posted 21 March 2008 - 05:02 PM

"Bouchon was an incredible disappointment. The single worst version of moules et frites ($26.50) that I have ever had: stringy, tough, bound to the shell with fries that I swear were frozen."

Also, in the article you linked yourself above just after Thomas Keller "selling" frozen french fries:

"Frozen is better than fresh? Tell that to Telepan owner and Haute Barnyard guru Bill Telepan. “The frozen ones have a strange edge to them from all the things they add — like sugar and starch and hydrogenated oil — to make them crispy. It’s so easy to make fresh French fries, I can't imagine why anyone would do anything else. The only possible reason is cost.” —Daniel Maurer

I am not a fan of frozen french fries.

Just note that there are frozen fries and there are frozen fries. You can get them with almost nothing added (I have almost always seen an anti-oxydent like ascorbic acid at the very least) to ones with laundry lists of chemical additives as long as your arm. I have worked with a chef who did the two fry method on fresh potatoes each day, and with a chef who used as unadulterated a frozen fry as possible. Both chefs were able to turn out noteworthy fries, albeit vastly different. Then again, I have had cut to order fries that are horrific as well as frozen fries not worth the effort to chew them. By my experience, I cannot not honestly say that one is always better than the other.
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Come on, what does Keller know? :(

He knows how to WRITE a good recipe. This is his recipe for french fries from page 249 of Bouchon:

Large russet potatoes (2 per person) washed

Peanut oil for deep frying

Kosher salt

The russet potato is the best for fries because of its high starch content and its shape.

Set out a large bowl of cold water/ Using a potato cutter, a mandoline, or a knife, cut each potato into sticks 1/4 inch thick and 4 and 1/2 inches long and place in the water. Discard any cuts that are irregular; they'll cook unevenly. When all the potatoes have been cut, change the water several times until the starch has been rinsed from the potatoes and the water remains clear. (The potatoes can be refrigerated in the cold water for several hours.)

FOR THE FIRST FRYING: Fill a deep fryer or a large heavy pot with 3 to 4 inches of good peanut oil for the best flavor and heat to 320 degrees F.

Remove the potatoes from the water and drain well on paper towels. Place a handful of potatoes in the hot oil, using a basket insert if you have one; shake the basket a few times or stir the potatoes. Do not crowd the potatoes; there should be at least twice as much oil as potatoes. Fry until the potatoes are cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes; they shouldn't be any darker than a very pale gold. Remove the fries from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. (The blanched potatoes can be held for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.) Reserve the oil in the fryer or pot.

FOR THE SECOND FRYING: Reheat the oil to 375 degrees F. Add one portion of the fries at a time and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the potatoes are a deep gold with a crisp exterior. Quickly drain on paper towles, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

___________________

In the Vegas Bouchon on our visit he skipped all of this. Someone cut open a bag and poured frozen french fries into hot oil and later served them. Thus my comment, "fries that I swear were frozen."

I must note here that I return to Vegas in two weeks for a trade show. I entertain everynight for a week for my business, each night in a different restaurant. I will not return to Bouchon regardless of its reputation-the moules et frites were an extreme disappointment. Having been to the FL twice and having made a number of dishes from the book Bouchon I expected what he plated to have the same refinement. It did not. He cut a lot of corners on our visit in Vegas that he insists you do in his book. The french fries were among the most apparent.

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Just note that there are frozen fries and there are frozen fries. You can get them with almost nothing added (I have almost always seen an anti-oxydent like ascorbic acid at the very least) to ones with laundry lists of chemical additives as long as your arm. I have worked with a chef who did the two fry method on fresh potatoes each day, and with a chef who used as unadulterated a frozen fry as possible. Both chefs were able to turn out noteworthy fries, albeit vastly different. Then again, I have had cut to order fries that are horrific as well as frozen fries not worth the effort to chew them. By my experience, I cannot not honestly say that one is always better than the other.

Beck does a good frozen french fry although I believe Central's fresh ones are a bit better. Regardless, at a certain level, I have respect for the best Belgian or Amsterdam frites, for Thresher's on the lower end of the Ocean City boardwalk (only that one) for Duckfat in Portland, ME which I literally will drive from Boston to Portland and back just to have a panini and duck fat fried fries (190 miles round trip and worth it). I've driven from Seattle to Spokane to eat the original McDonald's fresh fries pre 1967 at Dick's Drive In there, talked at length to the man who opened Dick's and how he ended up with McDonald's fries, then later wrote about his. Double cooked in 70% animal fat. My wife has been there, other friends have been there. And, nearby, a McDonald's one block down the street with their frozen fries of today. Dick's, at lunch most days, will have 75 to 100 people waiting outside one of its walkup windows. McDonald's will have a scattering of cars in its parking lot.

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