Good Food! unResolution Post #7: Perfect French Fries

French Fries
French Fries

And now Fried Week comes to a close, but don’t worry there’s plenty more unResolution Month.  However, we’re not leaving Fried Week without a bang.  Tonight it’s time for

Perfect French Fries

French fries at home that are great?  Is it possible?  A few months ago, I would have said no.  Quite simply, I have never had French fries made at home that could possibly compare to the delicious golden fried potatoes I can get at finer restaurants (including McDonald’s when I used to eat there.)

Oh, I had a number of excuses for why my frier could never produce a fry that rivaled anything I could get at a restaurant ranging from the fact that McDonald’s fries are more preservative than potato, cheap frying equipment, bad potato crop, bad luck.  But I was in denial (well, except for the McDonald’s part…really, potato is like the sixth ingredient on the list.)

Then I read a life changing book: The Man Who Ate Everything by the amazing (and grumpy) Jeffrey Steingarten.  In his book, a monument to obsessive/compulsive explorations of all things culinary, he devotes an essay to his quest for perfect fries.  From him I learned the secret to perfect French fries at home.

Making Perfect French Fries

And that secret was horse fat.

Well, kind of.  He actually devoted a little time to the fact that tallow (beef or horse fat) were the single most powerful flavoring component in French fries.  However, tallow is good at making people’s heart explode and as such has gone out of favor to be replaced by vegetable oil.

In all seriousness, though, he did reveal a secret: fry your fries twice.  That’s right, let them take a hot oil bath.  Then take them out of the oil.  Then fry them again.  That’s all it takes!

You will need:

  • 1 pound of potatoes, peeled and cut into fry shape
  • Oil for frying (peanut if no one has any peanut allergies, vegetable otherwise)
  • Salt

Yep, that’s all.

After you have peeled and sliced the potatoes, put them in a tub of water so that they are completely submerged.  Let them sit for an hour to remove the starch.  Remove from the water and pat dry.

Bring the oil to 350 degrees or medium-high heat.

Fry the French fries in small batches for five minutes each. 

Raise the heat to 375 then return the fries to the oil and fry until golden brown.

Put on a cooling rack or on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with salt.

Serve with ketchup, ranch or eat alone and enjoy!


  1. I am not so sure about horse fat but frying for a second time definitely YES. “French Fries” as it’s referred to has actually originated from Belgium and not France. In Belgium, it’s called “Frites” (pronounced fr-eet) and it’s always fried twice. It’s fried lightly the first time and after cooling down it’s fried a second time. This process will not make it any oilier or fatter, it just makes it a bit crunchier and better tasting. For best results, never fry fully frozen product, defrost naturally and completely before frying and always fry at 180ºC. You will also need a good fryer. Prestige products has a huge range of benchtop deep fryers at discounted pricing.

  2. Stephanie… Me, too! Frying is so much easier in a frier than in a skillet. Plus, it keeps the oil fresh(ish).

    Courtney…great minds think a like! Yeah, I had no idea about the second fry until I read the book and what a difference it made.

    The ultimate french fry is fried in beef fat — twice!

    1) Choose an Idaho Russet potato. Russet Burbank variety if you can get them.

    2) Condition the potato by storing in a 70 degree environment for a couple of weeks (potatoes coming out of cold storage need time to convert sugars back to starch).

    3) Cut the potatoes into the desired fry size, similar to the fast food places you prefer.

    4) Soak the cut potato strips in room temperature water for at least 8 hours, overnight is good (this soaking plumps up the cells within the potatoes to result in an improved texture). DO NOT USE ICE WATER OR REFRIGERATE! The starch will convert back to sugars causing the finished fries to take on a darkened exterior color.

    5) Dry the potato strips and fry in 300 degree oil until just cooked inside and limp, fry time is dependent on the thickness of the fry strip. Bite a piece off and taste, if the raw potato taste is absent it’s done inside. Let cool.

    6) Bring oil to 375 degrees and fry until golden brown and crispy.

    7) Of course, fry in beef fat (tallow), properly twice fried fries will not soak up much fat. What’s the point of endeavoring to produce the very best french fry and then compromising the taste with a neutral tasting fry oil.

    8) Important, work in controlled sized batches that doesn’t drop the frying temperature significantly.Maintain the fry temp or the fries will absorb fat.

    9) Rice Bran Oil is the best alternative to those that have a aversion to beef fat. In & Out restaurants are noted for excellent fries, they fry in Rice Bran Oil.

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