Okay I only have either a normal Frying Pan or a Sauté Pan. Should I use the Sauté Pan for the fries? I don't want to use too much oil though. What's the best way to do it? I'm not talking about cheap fries from McDonalds, I'd like to make some 'real' French Bistrot Fries. :)
Making real French Bistrot fries in a Sauté Pan?
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Not everyone's mammy knows how to cook, Ishbel! Not even every neighbor or friend. Sometimes I begin to wonder just how many people actually do know how to cook. I go to people's houses here, and we're talking about Italy, where supposedly food is always good, and they almost ALWAYS put too little oil to fry, and they put meat (chops, steaks, etc) in a cold pan and then turn it on.
Being in Italy, or France, doesn't mean you can find people who know how to cook!
All I can say, le francais, and i don't know really much about bistrot fries, is that you need more oil than you think (because when you put the potatoes in it they cool down the oil and make the potatoes absorb it instead of forming a crust which protects them from the oil) so you'd have to do the cooking in batches.
I also know some say to drain, then refry again. Not sure why, but i have read it. I'm surprised no one is answering you - i'm hardly the expert on this.
I found that draining fried foods on a rack instead of the usual paper towel leaves them nice and crispy - the towel makes steam and they get soggy. Important if you have to fry in batches. Use two frying pans perhaps. Make sure the oil doesn't get cool, so add the potatoes a little at a time, and then make sure they have plenty of fat to swim around in.
Allright Le Francais, les frites, c'est la Belgique, so here we go;
Here's some basics including some warnings. Keep in mind you work with hot oil, any careless approach means serious danger.
- use a high pan (your sauteuse?) but NEVER fill it higher than 1/3th of the height of the pan with oil, it may look too few, but it's not. When deepfrying the oil rises quite high!
- adjust the amount of fries in one batch. I'd say in your case, Le Francais, at first, try with no more than one handful to prevent the pan from overflowing!!! Adjust the amount in your next batch.
- always rince ànd dry your fries before they go in the oil. Remaining water on the fries will stay at the bottom of the fryer and push the oil up, causing a dramatic overflow of the oil!!
- before frying, using no thermostat, test the temperature by throwing a very small piece of bread (crouton size) in the oil. If it starts to sizzle immediately at the surface and browns very quickly, your oil temperature is good. If not, it's not hot enough.
- always keep a skimmer ready. If anything looks like going wrong, immediately scoop some fries out.
- most important; do NOT leave the stove when deepfrying in primitive conditions! Never leave hot oil unattended.
- when done, remove the pan from the burner !!
How to make them?
Ask for potatoes fit for making fries in the shop. Do not buy potatoes with a high sugar content; they will brown too quickly but get all soggy, bwaaak. In your case; absolutely NO frozen fries!!!
Peel the potatoes, cut in 10cm thick slices first (let's call it bistrotsize), then cut the slices in frites. Don't worry if they are not all the same, let's call that bistrotstyle. Put in water, rince. A short minute before frying, take the fries out of the water and dry in a kitchentowel. Test the temperature of the oil first. Fry, but DO take the fries out with your skimmer just before they start to brown. Take the fries out with your skimmer and spread them out on a cold plate or tray and let them cool entirely. Fry again untill nicely golden brown, take them out with your skimmer, put on a deep plate covered with papertowel. Salt immediately. You can deepfry in the same oil for about 6-7 times. Get rid of it in an appropriate way wich does NOT include your toilet.
Enjoy and keep enjoying making frites by reminding the warnings I gave, sinon c'est la fin du bistrot.
p.s. buy a small deepfryer, or better yet, give a housewarming party and ask one as a gift!
Ok,chris, why, oh why, do they refry them and not just brown the first time? What is the purpose of that?
About the size being even - i can cut potatoes into very even pieces, and always did. Then i had fries made by a friend who cut with the potato in her hand with a small knife. They came all different, and in particular, were all sort of wedge shaped. At first i felt so superior. But soon changed my mind - what was so disconcerting wass that hers were way better than mine! The wedge shape meant that the points were thinner and got crispier, while the thick end stayed creamy inside. After that, though i can't bring myself to cut with the potato in my hand, i make a point to cut wedge shaped pieces on the cutting board, (cutting in half or thirds, then cutting diagonally into the potato.
The first fry in moderately heated oil creates a skin on the exterior so oil won't penetrate and make the fries greasy, and almost completely cooks the interior; as the frites slowly cook they rid themselves of their own internal moisture. The intermediate draining and cooling stage is important too, as the potatoes briefly rest and the interior continues cooking. The second fry in hotter oil quickly browns and crisps the sealed exterior; meanwhile the air inside the potatoes expands and gives the frites a wonderfully fluffy texture.
Not the only good way to make fries (aka chips and frites), but surely one of the best. Worth the effort.
Siduri, the secret of the best fries is; 1. to soften them first, and 2. to crisp them at the outside.
The best way is to "poach" them in the first fry at a lower approx. 150°C. This serves only to soften them and lasts about 10-12 minutes. Best endresult will be when they do not brown at all in this stage, but the fries have to be done, soft. Many people over here check that by lifting the fries out of the oil and squeeze a fry between thumb and indexfinger.
Next is a cooling stage at room temperature, never in the fridge! When they sit in the fridge for a while, most of the real potato taste disappears...
Then follows a second fry to just crisp the outside and warm them through at 180°C. This second fry takes only a minute or so. You can actually hear from the changing of the frying sound when they are ready for the second frying, we listen when the fries start to "sing".
And you mentioned a second secret how to make excellent fries that few people know! In the old days, people always cut the fries "freehand" with a small potato peeler and didn't care for too equal shapes. This will result in a variety of doneness that always gives you that uncomparable mixed mouthfeel of crunchy and soft textures.