French fries may be the ultimate comfort food. There is something absolutely wonderful about the salty, crunchy treat that just makes you happy. Try being in a bad mood when eating fresh, good, french fries. Go ahead – it is next to impossible.
But … yes, I know fried foods are bad for you. Fried foods are full of empty calories and all kinds of still we should not ingest. I don’t care. There is a place for french fries in every life and if there isn’t, there should be.
And they are stupidly simple to make at home. You don’t need a deep fryer (although I can see where that would come in handy) or fancy equipment – you just need patience and a desire for really good french fries.
- 1 medium baking potato
- 1 medium sweet potato
- peanut oil (or other high temperature oil) for frying
Wash potatoes and dry. Have a bowl of water handy for submerging the potato after slicing them. Depending on the size of the potato, cut into either half or thirds. (you are going to want thin slices of potato) Turn the slice on its side and slice into matchstick slices. If needed, cut the pieces in half so they are thin. (Did I mention that thin is the key??) Let the potato slices soak while you slice both potatoes then drain and dry well. Dry really well – you do not want to add water to hot oil.
Heat oil in a frying pan. You want enough to coat the fries, so you need more than you would for cooking normally, but not so much that it will take forever to heat the pan and the oil. A lot of recipes will tell you to heat the oil to a particular temperature, but I don’t have a reliable thermometer so I go by feel. When I feel heat when holding my hand about three inches from the pan, I go for it.
Cook potato slices in the oil in batches (I needed 4 batches for the two potatoes) for 4-6 minutes, stirring once about half way through. The fries should be beginning to brown, but not burn. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel or old newspaper. If you want really crispy fries, return them to the pan for about 2 more minutes after all of the raw potatoes have been cooked. They are good without the second cooking, but they are much crisper.
Salt immediately after removing from the oil – wait until the second fry if you are doing two. Enjoy.
Since there is leftover oil, I poured the remaining oil in a small jar and saved it for another day. I strained it through a basic strainer just to get big pieces out, but you may not need to.