How to Make Real French French Fries
If you’ve ever been to a real French bistro in Paris, then you know what real French French fries taste like – not like McDonald’s that for sure. They are crisp and brown with a light, fluffy interior. Two things that they are not are soggy and greasy. Seattle cooking schools should have an entire class dedicated only to the art of properly making French fries.
A well-cooked French fry isn’t a perfect companion for cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets, but a well-cooked steak or bowl of mussels. In fact, one of the most popular bistro French and Belgian dishes is moules frites, mussels with French fries. Some chefs may turn their noses up at the idea of serving fries along side their creations, but they should turn in their culinary arts degree if they do. Done right, the French fry belongs on the plate along side any entree that you would serve with any other potato dish.
So how do we turn this perennial childhood favorite into a bistro-worthy gastronomic treat? The key is double frying: cooking them once at a low temperature, and then cooking them again at a higher temperature to crisp up the surface. That’s how the French do it in their bistros. And that’s how you should do it in your kitchen to make a French fry like you’ve never tasted before.
Double-Fried French Fry Recipe
As stated above, the key to crisp, French, bistro-style fries is the double frying method. The fries are parboiled in oil at 325 degrees F. The heat is then raised to 365 degrees F to finish the process. It’s more labor intensive, but the results are worth the effort.
- 4 or 5 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
- 2 quarts of peanut oil
- Finely-ground sea salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Mayonnaise (optional)
- Slice off 4 sides of the potatoes until they are flat on all side. Leave as much skin as you can.
- Slice the squared potatoes into 1/3-inch slices. Slice each slice into 1/3-inch sticks.
- Soak the potatoes for at least 30 minutes in a large bowl of cold water. This helps to remove excess starch and lets the potatoes get crispier while cooking.
- Pre-heat oil in fryer or a large, heavy pot to 325 degrees F.
- Remove potatoes from water and pat them dry with a towel.
- Add two handfuls at a time to the oil. Do not over crowd them or they will not cook properly
- Par cook them for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the potatoes and let them dry on a rack while you finish the other batches.
- Raise the heat of the oil to 365 degrees F.
- Cook the potatoes again, two handfuls at time, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from the oil, shake off the excess oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
To make them real bistro-style French fries you must serve them with mayonnaise for dipping. We Americans tend to like our fries with ketchup so go halfway and mix up equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise. It’s actually quite tasty.
Serve them with a steak from the grill or giant bowl of steamed mussels in butter and garlic. These fries are definitely the real French deal. Trèsmagnifique!
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