Thursday, July 16, 2009

French Fries – So Nice Because You Cook Them Twice

This how to make crisp restaurant-style French fries video recipe is probably more of any FYI – "oh, that's how they do it" demo, than an inspiration to actually try them.

I d
on't think most people realize that any decent French fry needs to be twice fried. The first frying in done at a lower temperature, which softens the potato and prepares the starchy surface for the second frying's crispification.

When done correctly, you get an amazing textual combination of light fluffy interior and thin crisp exterior. When you fry raw potatoes, even if the oil and temperature are perfect, there is really no way it will get and stay crisp just cooking it through in one shot.

I've been to so many restaurants that either don't know or don't care about this important fact. Why would they serve a limp fry when they could be making beautifully crisp fries? It remains one of the great foodservice mysteries.

Some people actually refer to these as "Belgium fries," since many food historians claim the technique was first developed there. If you research the history of French fries you will read many passionate arguments on the France vs. Belgium debate regarding this sinfully delicious side dishes' true origins.

I find these arguments amusing, not because there aren't legitimate cases for both sides, but because give or take a few bad movies and a couple museums, France and Belgium are like the same country. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
Russet or Kennebec Potatoes
vegetable oil or shortening for frying
salt

50 comments:

Chanelle said...

Those look awesome. If you are doing enough fries for more than one person, you would do you fry them in batches right? How do you recommend keeping the fries hot while the others are frying?
Any plans to do a ketchup recipe?

Chef John said...

yes, batches are best so the oil doesnt cool. just keep an oven at 200 and they will stay fairly crisp.

incapability87 said...

Just poppin' in to give the expected tongue-lashing for throwing France and Belgium into the same Dutch oven. After all, "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam, qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt."

Jesse said...

Curious if last month's issue of Gourmet spurred you to post this? I tried their recipe (sans deep fat thermometer) and botched the whole batch. It would seem that I am excessively reliant on Maestro Mitzewich's tutelage...

By the way, I tried your guidelines for the Chicken Roulade last night. What a spectacular way to do chicken! (Even if I did have to substitute in salami and a cheese stick.) Botched the pan sauce, though - still can't get the hang of it.

Pam said...

"pulled a cheek muscle" .... hehehe!

Galinette said...

Bravo le Chef Jonathan!
but I muzt say, you do not peel ze chips entirely? zat seems étrange to me!
Outzide of the USA (which iz a geographical oddity) no one refers to chips (or "fries") as being French. Even ze French know zat it iz ze Belgian speciality, sacrebleu!

Food Junkie said...

So THAT's how you do it! Of course they really should be served with the traditional malt vinegar and salt. Now if I only had a fryer.

Minh Chau said...

Hey Chef John! I tried out this recipe and it was great.
I'm thirteen years old with natural talent, and I will be a chef when I'm older, I was wondering If it's not too personal how much it costs for an entire tuition of a good school for culinary arts?

satchmo said...

I always attributed the "French" part of fried potatoes to a common, alternative way of saying Julian--well, to how common it is, i don't know.

To "french" a potato, way back in the day in some parts of the U.S., was to Julian a potato because the technique was associated with French cuisine. Somewhere down the line the public caught on to saying it.

so, a not so French fry it is.

TikiPundit said...

Great video as always.

Thought you'd hear from the Belgium vs France crowd. But I'm surprised no one has written in from Flanders to complain about the comparison to France.

/never mind that Brussels is laid out like Paris, in imitation
//Brussels 2nd only to Paris in haute cuisine
///Belgians make far fewer bad movies than the French because they make far fewer movies

Chef John said...

Minh, depends, some are 50,000. don't go to culinary school. work for a chef first.

Jessica said...

And *why* wouldn't we do this? You words say "no" but your fries say, "immediately".

Chef John said...

reverse psychology

J said...

How would the outcome of the fries be affected if for the first blanching step, you boiled them instead of fried? Would the (slightly) healthier fries be passable or is it just better to go for broke and double-fry?

PS: Thanks for posting informative vids as well as functional!

Chef John said...

ive done that for fried potato wedges and it works well, but thinner fries may be harder to not overcook. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thats funny I was planning on getting some steak um maybe ribeyes an making my own burgers tommorow an here you post a fries video lol,I made the chicken breast with herbs de provence an mushrooms and rice pilaf today it was awesome but on the down side found out my wife of 32 yrs doesn't really care for saffron,go figure,o an I made my son who is a vegan a pizza usualy he puts his leftovers in the fridge on a plate as is today he covered them in plastic :)o made a loaf of bread to have to wake up early so I get some for breakfast its almost gone lol,Thx John I turning into a cooking fool but it sure tastes good.:)o an it probably didn't even take an hour to make all that just putzing around except for the dough that was 10 minutes in morning to start in the morning an one nead later.oops an the chicken that marinaded for over a day :)Theres nothing like pulling pizza dough an looking over an giving a pan of mushrooms a shake an a smell to see how their doing.

Asian Malaysian said...

Ribeye burgers? Are those things legal?:) Will put these fries on the bucket list, Chef John. Have to work in some animal fat into the cooking oil to keep all the vegetarians away from em.

Asian Malaysian said...

Ribeye burgers? Are those things legal?:) Will put these fries on the bucket list, Chef John. Have to work in some animal fat into the cooking oil to keep all the vegetarians away from em.

Ngoc Thach said...

Your fries looks awesome. I've tried blanching them before and still they remain crunchy for only like 5 minutes before going limp when cooked. Some recipe i've found before suggested microwaving the potatoes frying to cook them instead of blanching. What are your takes on that?

väös said...

Hi John,

Being from a town 1 mile from the Belgian border I thought I could say a few things about "French fries"...

1: They're only called french fries in the US and in MacDonalds restaurants. In Belgium and France they're called "Frites"

2: They're Belgian, that is: you can find them in Belgium, not as much in France.

3: The French tend to cut their fries smaller and thinner, calling them "allumettes" or matchsticks. Belgians cut them 10 - 13mm thick.

4: Belgium is the "Friture" or fries-joint/snackbar capital of the world; you will find a place that sells "frites" on almost every corner.

5: The number one condiment for fries is (pulp fiction wasn't wrong): mayonaise! Belgian snackbars have a huge selection of things to put ON fries!

6: My mom (who makes the best fries ever) leaves the fries to rest in a closed towel after the first frying, which makes them extra fluffy on the inside.

and lastly a tip:
try a bit of mayonaise with a squeeze of lemon with your fries. Divine.


Greetings from Maastricht,
Väös

tut said...

Yeps ribeye burgers are legal,i read a story about henry ford II he loved burgers but complained that nobody but his chef could make them right so one day lee iaccoca asked the chef how he made them he took out a ribeye ran it through a grinder made a patty an threw it on the grill lol

tut said...

P.S. I got two beautys at the farmers market this morning can't wait till dinner time :)

breathingmylife said...

Belgium and France are not the same country!!! Hahaha you will hear from them! French say silly mean things like Belgians are slow and the Flemish part of Belgium even looks down upon their French speaking countrymen. Oh Lord, blasphemous speaketh thou.

Flour said...

Your last paragraph made me smile,funny:)
Thanks for revealing the mystery that is a crispy fry. I've tried everything: freezing cut potatoes and then frying them, boiling cut potatoes and frying, and even your method of frying them twice (but my temperature was way too high on the first fry)...thanks for making this look so easy...lol

PRiSON said...

this is just great! I love this recipe, I never knew exactly how to crisp it well. I must confess that there are 2 chefs that changed my way of cooking: that's you and Jamie Oliver from UK. Thanks and good cooking.

Lucia said...

Vlaamse fritjes! There is no such culture in France. In Belgium you have fritkots in all towns where you can get some delicious fries (getting the second frying when you order it if there is not too much people, otherwise they just keep coming out fresh) and eat them while you walk around.

In France there is no yummy savory snack foods to take away like that. Maybe you can get fries to take aaway in places where they sell kebabs or greek sandwiches, but they are nowhere as good as the Belgian ones. French men are happy to use as side dish in their restaurants frozen fries and sometimes they get dead cold to your dish....

Flemish fries FTW! (lived in Belgium for some years and now I'm in France. God, I miss the fries!)

Jen said...

I almost gave up on you, Chef. You've not done demos on any of my requests...until now! Thanks! Though I'm quite sure you gotten loads of french fry demo requests along with mine.

I tried your instructions with fantastic results! They were the best fries I had ever made. Thank you! The cooling down after the first blanch frying was key!

処女 said...

「友達の中で処女なのは私だけ…でも恥ずかしくて処女だなんて言えない、誰でもイイからバージンを貰ってほしい!」そんな女性が沢山いる事をご存じですか?出合いが無かった、家が厳格だった等の理由でHを経験したことがない女性がたくさんいるのです。当サイトはそんな女性たちと男性を引き合わせるサイトです

Healthy and Homemade said...

"signature pairings"

bwahahaha, awesome.

Anonymous said...

THE ULTIMATE FRENCH FRIES ARE FRIED IN BEEF FAT

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 (more or less) environment for a couple of weeks (potatoes coming out of cold storage need time to convert sugars back to starch).

McDonald's founder Ray Kroc once wrote: "The french fry, would become almost sacrosanct for me, its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously." Setting up his first restaurant Ray Kroc experienced complete failure to reproduce the McDonald brother' delicious french fries. .... When Kroc and his crew duplicated the McDonald brothers' method -- leaving just a little peel for flavor, cutting the potatoes into shoestrings, and rinsing the strips in cold water--the fries turned into mush. .... After repeated telephone conversations with the McDonald brothers and several consultations with the Potato and Onion Association, Kroc pinpointed the cause of the soggy spuds. .... The McDonald brothers stored their potatoes outside in wire bins, and the warm California breeze conditioned them and cured the potatoes slowly turning the sugars into starch. .... In order to reproduce the superior taste of these potatoes, Kroc devised a system using an electric fan to cure the potatoes in a similar manner. .... He also perfected a blanching process, which is the twice fried process so vitally important to achieving golden crispy fries outside and a soft and tasty texture inside. .... Within three months he had a french fry that was, in his opinion, slightly superior in taste to the McDonald brothers' fries.

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 and the interior is soft, it's done inside. Let cool.

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

7) Of course, fry in beef fat (tallow), properly twice fried fries will not soak up a significant amount of 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.

liam said...

just curious why did chef john say multiple times not to make this in the video?

here's a pretty article by serious eats
http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/05/the-burger-lab-how-to-make-perfect-mcdonalds-style-french-fries.html

JimB said...

I used this method a couple years ago to go with some beautiful NY Strips. Wonderful. However I don't think that 'crispification' is really a word and I dare you to try saying it with a mouthful of french fries. Thanks for the reminder.

Family, Money and Stuff said...

Oooh. The secret's out! I like. Thanks!

Angelique n Stuff said...

Haha! As a former chef, I knew what you were going to tell everyone. Still couldn't believe you did! We'll be put out of business! (JK home made fries ALWAYS taste better) One thing I wanted to point out is that if prepping food is your Zen place (it's mine, don't judge me), then you might really enjoy hand cutting fries. I hand cut my fries, and it's one of my favorite prep jobs. So again...thanks for puttin' our secrets on blast, dude. Everyone enjoy fast food fries while you can, this technique will ruin you for fries forever.

Kevin P. said...

As a belgian and fan of you i must say you are right at some parts.

You should always peel the whole potato, french fries should not come with peel.

Also the name french fries is a naming that has been a point of discusion last years. As i must say it does not come it being from France. The american soldiers knew they were in belgian. The term French comes from the old irish word to french, wich means to fry something. Hence the name French Fries.

Next, eat your fries with anything but not with freakin ketchup please. Stop putting ketchup on everything the best way to eat fries is with mayonaise, preffirable mayonaise with some lemon in it.

Lastly the hotter the fry the tastier ^^

Myriam said...

I'm laughing about your France vs Belgium argument and them being the same. Don't let any Frenchman hear you say that. They'll kill you. Lol
Thanks so much for your tips. I've learned so much from you.

seo said...

LOL, Looks delicious though

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John! I tried the french fries and they were AMAZING. I'm wondering if the recipe will work with canned potatoes?

Mehrzad said...

Bonjour et merci pour partager votre talent. Le prochain qui dit du mal sur les "French Fries" va au piquet!
;o))

acıktım said...

Sorry, my english is not very good... So, after the first frying stage, we dry them in room temperature and then we put them in refrigerator to chill(for better crispiness), right?

Chef John said...

Yes, that is correct!

Anonymous said...

Hi - could you freeze these after the first cooking? looking for ways to bulk process without sacrificing quality
Thanks

Chef John said...

I should work, but I've never tried!

Anonymous said...

Chef, i was thinking of dusting the fries with powdered seasonings to give it a different taste. Hoping that u can let me know of some seasoning powder mixtures that i can mix up at home. Also, how can i make seaweed powder seasoning? Thanks.

Fire House Chef said...

Blanching! It never occurred to me. I sliced up a couple of spuds...put them in water with a couple of changes as directed in your vid... blanched them for about 5 minutes at the lower temp, and placed them in the fridge for later. The next day, I popped them in the deep fryer...and WOW! Without a doubt, theee best fries I've ever made.

Thank you for your vid!

Unknown said...

Hi John, I'm an avid fan.

I'm opening up a deli and I'm going to make your French fries. Question, can I blanch a bulk of potatoes in the morning and keep them in refrigerator until second frying? Can it be crispy enough to server during lunch time?

Champions Sports Bar said...

I own a sports bar and was wondering about how long will they last after the first deep fry since i need to make alot at a time? Could you freeze them and then cook them a second time?

Shuggles said...

I made these last night to go with some grilled burgers and they were freakin' amazing! I always knew about frying twice but did not know to completely cool the pa-day-das. (I totally get why you pronounce potatoes that way. I'm originally from Canada's east coast!) I would wait 5 or 10 minutes between fryings but cooling them gives an excellent result. Next time, I'll wait several hours or overnight to do the second frying. Thanks so much for this, Chef John!!

kate said...

pa-day-das! I grew up Irish and that is how it is said! I just made these tonight...recipe testing. Made the French Fries and then ate them (OOOHH EMMM JJEEEE!) as I also made onion rings....(again OMG) Amazing techniques for those times when you allow yourself to splurge, but promise to go back to fish and vegetables the following day. These are satisfying beyond belief for those who were holding out for a special treat, might have tried fast food places (only to be severely disappointd) and then broke down and committed to making these most perfect of French Fries. Takes time, planning and effort, but not much, and the reward is just so authentic. Big potato(e) taste! Crunchy. Simply Irresistable.

Shuggles said...

I've made these several times now and always hand-cut my fries. In fact, I have a once-fried batch in the fridge right now that will be fried in about an hour!