I like french fries. There I go messing with my foodie street cred once again. I know I should say things like, "I fancy grilled ramps" or "I relish sunchoke gratin" but the truth is, I like french fries. So much so that when a meal includes two side dishes, I'll often order double fries. When I'm stranded at an airport and attempting to be healthy, I'll forego the sandwich at McDonald's just so I can get a large fries.
Unfortunately, my love of french fries has manifested as soggy, limp potatoes everytime I've attempted to make french fries at home. I've still eaten them mind you because I'm picky, not crazy. Anything even remotely reminiscent of a french fry immediately gets gobbled by yours truly. But, the quest for the perfect homemade french fry has continued. I've tried the double frying method, the pan frying, the frying then baking, and the angrily staring at the potato method but nothing has yielded the perfect french fry- crispy on the outside, deliciously moist and mealy on the inside.
A few days ago, I read about the great french fry experiment at Serious Eats. A kind soul had actually taken the time to document his various attempts and had posted a recipe promising the perfect french fry. He had me at perfect. I started out bright and early because I wanted to eat the french fries the same day. I know it says to freeze them overnight but I'm still working on the whole patience thing. I figured in the fry downtime, I could concoct a delicious curry mayo and feel all European while eating my french fries.
Peel, cut, boil, drain, cool, fry, freeze, fry yet again. In the interest of full disclosure, these fries take a long time to make. Theoretically, you could make a giant batch, freeze, and fry them as needed over the next month (or more realistically, next week). I cannot attest to this since we made the entire batch as soon as they were frozen and attacked them like we hadn't eaten for weeks but it sounds like a good plan, in theory anyhow. Also, if you don't have a deep fryer, it's a bit of a pain to regulate the oil temperature in the pot before each batch goes in. But the work is worth it. The recipe yields a french fry that is, without a doubt, the best homemade french fry I've ever made (and I've made a LOT of homemade french fries). Golden and perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and potato'y on the inside. Sprinkle with salt and you've found your new best friend.
Oh, and one last thing. You should make your flavored mayo or dipping sauce of choice well ahead of time because once the french fry process starts, you'll be too interested in tasting the fries at each step to make anything else. What did I do while the fries were freezing, you ask? Sat and stared at the freezer impatiently. Oh, and watched The Blind Side (great movie, by the way). So tell me, what is your french fry dipping sauce of choice?
Recipe, from Serious Eats.