I will admit it: I am a sucker for French fries. Isn’t everyone?
There are many techniques involved in making a perfectly crisp French fry. I will share how I do it. Yes, you can make mock French fries in the oven to avoid the oil…this post isn’t about that. This post is about deep frying. In oil.
Which Oil is Appropriate for Deep Frying?
Did you know a certain fast food company used to fry their French fries in beef tallow before switching in the 90s to vegetable oil? That’s right. That is why they were so tasty and crisp, but now they are greasy and limp. Have you noticed that many packaged ready-to-fry French fries contain flour and other additives to help them get crisp and brown? That is what happens when you fry in vegetable oil…the oil seeps into what you are frying and you end up with something very greasy.
With tallow, this doesn’t happen. Anything you fry in tallow will end up surprisingly light, crisp and not at all greasy. Surprised? Experiment for yourself. It isn’t that hard to make beef tallow. Here is my tutorial on how to render beef tallow, and don’t forget to catch the parting words from Julia Child about what she thought of the shift to vegetable oils for frying!
Now that the oil discussion is out of the way – let’s get started.
Homemade Crispy French Fries
- 8-10 potatoes (I used Yukon gold but Russet would also be a good choice here)
- Beef tallow for frying – enough to fill a 5 quart pot or Dutch Oven a little more than halfway
Wash and add the whole potatoes to a pot of cold water to cover. Cover and heat the potatoes over high flame and let the potatoes cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the potatoes and allow to cool (about 10-15 minutes). NOTE: Doing this step will prevent your potatoes from turning brown before you get them in the fryer.
Cut off the peels (you can use these peel ends to use in an an omelet the next morning) to create a square/rectangular shaped potato. Then cut the potatoes into French fry sticks. Spread the fries out on a cookie sheet and pat dry with a dish towel. I allow them to sit for a while too to dry out further. NOTE: Ensuring they are very dry will help them become crispy as well.
Meanwhile, heat your beef tallow in a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven fitted with a candy or deep-frying thermometer, over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers 300°F. Make sure you have at least 3 inches of space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan, the fries will bubble up when they are added.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the fries, a handful at a time, to the pot. Fry until potatoes are soft and limp and just begin to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, carefully remove the French fries from the oil and set aside to drain on a dish towel or a brown paper bag. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. NOTE: when you add the fries the temperature will drop so you want to increase the heat to ensure the oil stays at a consistent temperature of 300°F. Also note this is a perfect make-ahead recipe – get this started and then finish it right before dinner!
Right before you are ready to serve dinner, reheat the oil to 350°F. Transfer the blanched (deep frying can also be called blanching!) potatoes to the hot oil and fry again, stirring frequently until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer back to a towel or paper bag lined cookie sheet or roasting pan and sprinkle with salt. Put in a 200°F oven to keep warm until serving.
French Fries aren’t complete without ketchup! Try my homemade ketchup recipe.
Tip: you can reuse your beef tallow for a later date as long as you keep the oil under 350° F and it doesn’t smoke. Simply let it cool a bit after you a finished frying and then strain it through a cheesecloth.
In my eBook, The Homemade Mommy Handbook, I provide a lot more detail on basic cooking techniques including how to blanch vegetables like potatoes and how to properly brown ingredients while sautéing and roasting. Check out my eBook to learn more about these techniques and get some recipes to get you started.