All recipes copyright © 2001 Roy Finamore. Reprinted
by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
Classic French Fries
Serves 4 to 6
This is as much a technique as it is a recipe. Two pounds of russets will
give you enough fries for 4 to 6 people, but you can just cut up as many
fries as you feel like eating. We do. Remember: this isnt a last-minute
While we dont say no to ketchup, we also like dipping our fries
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
Oil for frying (peanut or a neutral vegetable oil)
Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch sticks. A mandoline is the tool
you want to be using here, but if you dont have one, heres
a good system: trim off a slice so the potato will lie at on the cutting
surface. Cut the potato into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then make manageable
stacks of the slices and cut again, this time into sticks. Drop the potatoes
into a big bowl of cold water as you cut them. Leave the potatoes to soak
for at least 2 hours. If youve got room, pop the bowl into the refrigerator;
if not, and youve got the bowl out on the counter, add ice cubes
to keep it cold.
Pour at least 3 inches of oil into a large pot; do not fill the pot more
than half full. Heat the oil to 325 degrees. While the oil heats, drain
the potatoes, lay them out on clean towels, and blot them completely dry
with paper towels. Heat up a skimmer or slotted spoon for the stirring
and retrieval of the fries (just put it in with the oil).
Grab a handful of potatoes and drop them into the oil. Not too many, so
you dont lower the temperature. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring
once in a while for even frying. The spuds will be beginning to go limp
and will show just the slightest hint of gold. Lift them out with your
handy heated skimmer and drain them on paper towels.
Once youve prefried all the fries, spread them
on trays and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Come dinnertime, heat the oil to 375 degrees and heat
up that skimmer. Drop in the fries, again by handfuls and again not crowding
them, and fry, stirring for even browning, until they are perfectly golden
and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt,
and serve hot.
These sturdy hand-cut fries sit so nicely next to a juicy, thick steak.
Theyll never be as crisp as classic fries, but we love their creamier,
potato-ier flavor. Leave the peels on for these, but scrub the spuds well.
Follow the method above, cutting the potatoes by hand
into 1/2-inch sticks. The prefrying will take longer, 5 to 7 minutes.
The second fry should be about the same, 3 to 4 minutes.
Herbed French Fries
Follow the method above, but while the potatoes chill, prepare 1 cup mixed
herb leaves (a combination of parsley, thyme, basil, and oregano is nice).
Wash and dry the leaves thoroughly. After youve fried the last handful
of potatoes, drop the herbs into the oil. Attention: they will spatter
wildly, so stand back. Scoop out the herbs with the skimmer as soon as
they crisp, which will take a mere 30 to 45 seconds.
Scatter the herbs over the fries and serve.