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the quest for the perfect french fry

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

i've made my own fries for a while now, and they're good... but they're not "steak frites" good. they always end up a bit limp and soggy, though they taste great.

 

here's what i do. maybe you can tell me where i'm going wrong:

 

  • russet potatoes
  • cut into strips (i actually have a  fry cutter, so they're perfectly even)
  • soak in cold water for at least 30 mins
  • rinse until water turns clear
  • blanche in peanut oil at 280 degrees until "blonde" (about 5 mins)
  • rest for at least 10 mins
  • fry in small batches in peanut oil at 375 degrees until golden brown (about 1-2 mins)
  • season with sea salt immediately

 

after each oil step, i spread out the fries to dry on a sheet pan covered with paper towels.

 

i've researched this, and my steps seem to be right in line with classic pommes frites methodology. i see some recommend blanching at 300 degrees. some suggest frying at 350 degrees. but the steps seem to be the same (i'm using bourdain's les halles cookbook method as my guide).

 

so, what do soggy fries indicate? not long enough in the fry stage? too long in the blanching stage? oil too cool? i've tried to watch the oil temp like a hawk and keep it constant, cranking it when the fries are dropped, backing it off when they come up to temp.

 

any suggestions? 

 

thanks, in advance.

post #2 of 24

The recipes from Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook are notoriously bad.  It's famous for getting things wrong. 

 

Your first fry is too cold, and the potatoes are probably soaking up the oil instead of developing an impermeable skin.  Next time 325*.  Don't go by time, you want some color.  But, plan on 5 minutes (as you did before).  Ish. 

 

375* is fine for the second fry.  This time you're looking for texture more than appearance.  You want crispy?  Fry to crispy.

 

That doesn't mean appearance doesn't count.  You'll want color a little darker than golden.  Also, keep your eye out for frites which puff up.  That means the moisture inside the fry is turning to steam which means the potatoes are done or very near, that the interior will be fluffy, and is a very reliable test.   

 

Bon chance,

BDL

post #3 of 24

After you soak and rinse in water you must must must dry completely.  You can put them in a salad spinner with paper towel.  Lay out on towels.  Get them as dry as possible before they go in the oil.

 

On another note, I dislike crisp fries.  I like my fries soft.  So I use yukon golds, cut them (thin) by hand, and fry them just once in a mix of peanut oil and olive oil.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Your first fry is too cold, and the potatoes are probably soaking up the oil instead of developing an impermeable skin.  Next time 325*.  Don't go by time, you want some color.  But, plan on 5 minutes (as you did before).  Ish. 



thanks. that makes sense. i'm surprised the bourdain book's recipes are so bad. they seem plausible enough. then again, it makes a good read...

post #5 of 24

Then you also have the Joel Robuchon cold-oil-start method (never tried it myself):

 

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2009/jul/08/method_starts_cold_oil88425/

post #6 of 24

I agree totally with drying off the fries as per Koukouvagia's advice.  They just won't work otherwise.

 

Another tip, which may seem time consuming, is to do the first fry, then lay the frites on an oven rack in the fridge until cooled, say half an hour.

 

Then get your oil cranked up/  Get the frites in there until they are floating and golden brown (sorry KKV I do love them crispy smile.gif  ).  Drain them over a cake cooling rack and salt immediately.  Eat. Enjoy biggrin.gif.

 

That should do the trick.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #7 of 24

I make Belgian Pomme Frites several times a month, and I read your posts and think WTF.

Dry off the potatoes?

280 degrees first fry?

Soak then rinse the potatoes?

 

Where do these recipes come from and what kind of cooks (Chefs?) do this stuff?

My Gosh!!!

 

If the fries are limp and soggy, I can suggest this:

No matter how well you make the fries, if you place them in a bowl to salt them and leave them for any length of time

the steam coming from the fries will swell up in the bowl and make the fries in the center soggy.

If you don't fry them long enough they will become soggy.

Yukon golds do not a good french fry make.

BDL I tip my toque to you sir....

post #8 of 24

DC Sunshine, no worries I agree with your method of making the crispy wholeheartedly.  And I absolutely do so when I'm making french fries to serve to guests and family.  I'm just admitting that when I'm all alone by myself in the privacy of my own kitchen I prefer them soft and use the once fry method.  It's my guilty pleasure. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

I make Belgian Pomme Frites several times a month, and I read your posts and think WTF.

Dry off the potatoes?

280 degrees first fry?

Soak then rinse the potatoes?

 

Where do these recipes come from and what kind of cooks (Chefs?) do this stuff?

My Gosh!!!

 

If the fries are limp and soggy, I can suggest this:

No matter how well you make the fries, if you place them in a bowl to salt them and leave them for any length of time

the steam coming from the fries will swell up in the bowl and make the fries in the center soggy.

If you don't fry them long enough they will become soggy.

Yukon golds do not a good french fry make.

BDL I tip my toque to you sir....

 

I am the potato queen and I say Yukon golds are the most flavorful potatoes

 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 24

Here goes,

 

I've become addicted to the triple cooked fry.  This method is usually attributed Heston Blumenthal.  

 

The basic idea is to add an initial step to the two stage low heat / high heat frying method described above.  

 

Basically you cut your fries and cook them in a large volume of boiling salted water (just like you would boil most veg).  And when I say cook, I mean cook. Not blanch, not par-boil.  To the point that if you let them go a minute longer they'll be for mashing.  Shock them in ice water to cool fast.  They should have a "cracked" fissured look on the surface, like a marble pattern.  They will also be fragile so handle with care.  Ideally you should tray them up and allow them to air dry in the fridge.  

 

Once dry proceed with the double fry procedure. At the end you'll get an extremely crisp fry with a centre like creamy mashed potatoes.  And they don't get soggy.  We'll I suppose they will eventually, but I've snacked on them a half hour after cooking with the temp. being the only change.  

 

For the record I use Yukon Golds.  

 

For the record you can freeze them after the boiling stage and they'll keep very well for at least a week.

 

--Al

post #10 of 24

I have tried steaming the potatoes first then ice bath, then  dry and fry at 375 till brown. It works very well. A lot of commercial fries are done like this, because they come out good and they save oil.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #11 of 24

Maybe once and for all: there's no such thing as "french" fries, unless they are made in France. Frites (pronounce as "freat" in english) are a Belgian invention, not french.

There's some logic in making frites. They have to be nicely soft inside and crispy outside. That's why they are fried twice. Once to soften them and a second time to give them a nice crispy coat.

 

Homemade frites;
Search and experiment for the best potatoes, they must fry evenly. We use "Bintje", a more floury potatoe, never waxy potatoes.

The best fries are handcut! They will turn out irregular, but have a wider variety of taste and mouthfeel.

Go for approx. 10 mm thickness.

Best not to wash them, but to just dry in a clean kitchentowel. You need to fry the frites soon after cutting or they will turn black if they are not kept in water.

Use a good quality frying oil like arachide (peanutoil). When your fryer has a lid, never close it when frying frites!!!

Set the temperature to 150°C (302°F). Don't overfill/underfill the fryer with frites. Too much frites in one batch, will produce fatty and soggy frites, yuck!

First fryingtime is approx. 10 minutes. When they come to the oilsurface they are done, which means still uncolored but softened. It's important not to color them. But, test by squeezing a frite between thumb and indexfinger. You have to be able to squeeze the frite easily, no "al dente". Take the frites out and gently shake above the fryingpan to drain the excess oil.
Leave the frites to cool entirely on a plate or tray. So now you have ample time to do anything else, such as having a beer.

 

The final frying is done at 180/190°C (356/374°C) for just 2-3 minutes. They need to be goldenbrown, not darkbrown! Professionals say they have to "sing", or make that particular bubbling fryingnoise when they are done.

Take the frites out, gently shake the excess oil off, put in a serving bowl clad with a papertowel and salt immediately. Toss them a bit in the air, to get even crispier and distribute the salt evenly.

When you salt later, the salt will simply fall off.


 

- Many professional friteries still use animal fat, which gives the ultimate taste. Usually processed beeffat that looks entirely white. Hence the name "ossewit" or oxwhite in english.

 

- After the first frying, you can bag the frites in one-batch portions and keep them in your freezer. Let them defrost a bit and fry. Best "frozen" frites ever.

 

- If you insist on "french" fries, make some "pommes Pont-Neuf". Very cheffy and delicious... also. You need to cut very thick fries up to just under one inch thick, poach in water, leave to cool or even put in the freezer, then fry in oil at 180°C untill golden brown. These french fries are stacked nicely, only 4-6 on one plate. 

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DC Sunshine View Post

I agree totally with drying off the fries as per Koukouvagia's advice.  They just won't work otherwise.



i always dry mine off. i think it may be the oil temp in the blanche. 

post #13 of 24

I have tried the cold oil start that CI has.  I've got to tell you, they are not bad, soak up very little oil and come out crispy.  Who knew!  Also, BIG help is that they are easy to do, not a whole ton of effort, with great results.  Now, they are the thinner style, not steak fry's, so there is a trade off.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MartiniMan View Post

I have tried the cold oil start that CI has.  I've got to tell you, they are not bad, soak up very little oil and come out crispy.  Who knew!  Also, BIG help is that they are easy to do, not a whole ton of effort, with great results.  Now, they are the thinner style, not steak fry's, so there is a trade off.



Thanks for reporting that. I think next time I make French Fries I will try that cold oil method. I didn't realize that was only for the thinner fries - although I do enjoy the thinner fries too.

post #15 of 24

I really think it's a matter of each to their own.  What works for you - works.

 

Chris Belgium - Many professional friteries still use animal fat, which gives the ultimate taste. Usually processed beeffat that looks entirely white. Hence the name "ossewit" or oxwhite in english.

 

I totally agree that lard works the best flavourwise.  I just can't use it for health reasons (although having frites is not got anyway hehe)

 

Koukouvagia - I have an even more evil treat.  Put an egg into the oil (carefully and once you've let the oil cool a little) and barely cook it after doing your frites.  Take it out once the yolk is *just cooked.  Then use it to dip the chips into.  Oh my, it is so nice.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #16 of 24

The most wonderful chips I have ever eaten is at Blumenthal's restaurant.  They are TRIPLE cooked and are just the bee's knees!  I don't know if his method is online - but I have never tried it at home as 3 x appears to be one x too much of a faff!  I fry mine twice!

 

Coming a close second is the chips made by 2 of my local chippies...  a white pudding and chips  or a fish supper - a treat I allow myself about twice a year!

post #17 of 24

DC, I always eat fries with eggs so that I can dip them into the yolks!  I prefer them fried over easy but I love them soft boiled too.  While your method sounds sinfully good I will only try that once I'm set to throw out my frying oil.  I tend to sieve and save the french fry oil for further use.  You mean oil poached eggs right?  Yum.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Your first fry is too cold, and the potatoes are probably soaking up the oil instead of developing an impermeable skin.  


i just spoke with a chef at a local bistro, where they make some of the best frites i've ever had (and i lived in france for several years), and he said he blanches them at 275 and fries them for service at 375. i think maybe i'm going too long in the par-cooking stage. who knows. i'm gonna try again tomorrow night, though.

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishbel View Post

The most wonderful chips I have ever eaten is at Blumenthal's restaurant.  They are TRIPLE cooked and are just the bee's knees!  I don't know if his method is online - but I have never tried it at home as 3 x appears to be one x too much of a faff!  I fry mine twice!

 

Coming a close second is the chips made by 2 of my local chippies...  a white pudding and chips  or a fish supper - a treat I allow myself about twice a year!

This is what most pros in the UK do. Triple cooked chips are first cooked in water as described above by Allan Mcpherson.
 

post #20 of 24

I didn't know that, Bazza!  I thought they were all double cooked only.

 

All I can say is:  his chips are heavenly!

post #21 of 24

 backing it off when they come up to temp UGG Classic Tall Boots.

post #22 of 24

I've never had any personal success making truly delicious fries with any textural integrity.

 

I have no idea specifically how they're prepared, but the best fries I've ever eaten were the Garlic Fries at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #23 of 24

The comments on hotter fat are spot on.

 

Try using rendered goose fat or beef suet. Much better for both texture and flavor! Pork lard is better than oil but not a good as goose fat or suet. If using oil, olive oil makes for better flavor. I knew a French woman who used a combination of pork lard and olive oil, the former to make a higher temperature work well and the latter for flavor.

post #24 of 24

Went through this a while ago--housemate and I, we tried a few ways to achieve the perfect fries.

 

One thing I've seen done, but yet to do myself, is to rest the fries in the fridge after the first cooking stage (the recipe I saw this in, the first cooking stage was in water). You rest them, uncovered and on absorbant towel, in the fridge, which dries them out and forms something of a crust (if you want to get all anal about it, I guess you'd change the towel and turn the fries a couple of times).

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