How to Make French Fries
1. Prepare the Potatoes
- The ideal homemade french fries have a crisp, golden exterior and a light, mealy interior. Russet or Idaho potatoes (high-starch potatoes) will give you the best results, although Finnish yellow, Yukon gold, or other all-purpose potatoes will work. Low-starch potatoes, such as round red or white or new potatoes, are the least preferable. For four to six servings, start with 4 medium baking potatoes (or sweet potatoes), or about 1-1/2 pounds. Usually potatoes are peeled, but you can leave the peel on. To prevent peeled potatoes from darkening, immerse them in a bowl of ice water.
- The trick for uniform fries is to first cut the potato into a rectangular shape by cutting off both ends. Next, cut straight down one side to make a flat surface. Repeat on the other three sides so you end up with a rectangular potato. Next, cut the potato into 1/4- to 3/8-inch strips. Soak strips in a bowl of ice water.
- If you prefer, you can cut the potato into thin wedges. Try to cut them so they are about 1/2 inch wide at the widest part of the potato. These homemade fries will be extra crispy.
2. Heat the Oil for Frying
- It's important to use an oil suitable for deep-frying when making fries. Some oils, such as olive and flaxseed, are not appropriate because they have low smoke points (325°F and below) and will smoke, discolor, and break down at low temperatures. Oils with a higher smoke point (396°F to 414°F) that work well for deep-frying include canola and peanut.
- One of the secrets for deep-frying foods is to keep the fat at a constant high temperature. This is best done by using a heavy, flat-bottom pan and a deep-fat thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. In a heavy deep 3-quart saucepan or fryer, heat oil to 365°F (the pan should be no more than half full).
3. Fry the Potatoes
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Drain the potatoes well. Using paper towels, pat the potatoes thoroughly to dry.
- Fry the potatoes, about one-third at a time, until tender in the centers and edges are crisp and golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes, turning once.
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the fries from the hot oil and transfer to clean paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Keep the cooked fries warm on a baking pan in the oven while frying remaining potatoes. Click here for more tips on deep-fat frying.
How to Bake Fries in the Oven
While the taste and texture isn't quite the same as the deep-fried version, homemade fries can be made successfully in the oven by baking them at a high temperature:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil.
- Prepare the potatoes as in Step 1 above. Drain potato strips and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place them in a resealable plastic bag. Spray the potatoes with nonstick cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Add the seasoning mixture to the potatoes in the bag; close the bag. Shake to coat the potatoes with seasoning mixture. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and tender when poked with a fork, turning once. If desired, sprinkle the potatoes with salt.