Whether you call them french fries, chips, frites, or…whatever…fried sticks of potatoes are popular around the world. So much so that the Dutch, in an apparent effort to waste more and more of the world’s resources, have just developed a vending that will give you a fresh batch of french fries in just 2 minutes. While this may seem like a miracle to some, I can’t imagine this when it is too easy to make your own fries at home. A couple of potatoes, salt, and oil are all that you need to make the best batch of fries that you’ll ever taste!
I’ll be honest. Growing up, it never crossed my mind to make my own fries. They either came out of a bag from the freezer or in a box at the closest drive-thru. Even now, there’s that occasional craving for those fast food fries when I just want a taste of what life was like back then.
Still, we know a little more about food today than we did back then, don’t we. We know that many of those national fast food chains have far too many ingredients in their fries, over 20 at one chain! What’s worse is that, unless you have a degree in chemistry, you are going to have a hard enough time pronouncing these ingredients much less explaining what those ingredients are.
When I think this out, I have to consider several factors. Health, of course, is one, but time and money are another. To drive to my neighborhood McDonald’s and purchase a large fry, it’ll take me about 15 minutes and cost about $2. To get fries comparable to what I’d make at home, I’d have to go to my closest Five Guys and spend around 45 minutes and $5 for the treat. To make a batch of fries at home would cost me about as much as the trip to McDonald’s and take me about as long as the trip to Five Guys. (Obviously, none of these costs take my own fuel into account)
So my question to myself is this: Is it worth saving myself 15-20 minutes for 16 fewer ingredients? If the answer is yes (which it is), is it worth spending that time driving or am I better off cooking them myself and sharing the experience with my kids? I have to say that sharing the experience with the kids is well worth the time investment. They get fresh, healthy food that they can see transformed from raw ingredient to finished product and you get to keep a couple of extra dollars in your pocket.
How easy is it? I’m going to show you! Start by washing two russet potatoes. Peel them if you want, but I love the taste and rustic feel of keeping the skin on, plus I get more of the health benefit by eating the skin! Two potatoes was plenty for my family of 5, but if you have older kids or are throwing a party, you may want another potato or two at the ready! Once you have washed them, slice them up into sticks…
…and cover with water for 30 minutes to 3 hours. The longer you soak, the crispier they will be because you are getting rid of some of that excess potato starch. When you drain off the cloudy water, you’ll see what I mean!
Finally, we get to the fun part, frying! Perfect fries call for a two-step process so that we cook the inside of the fry without burning the outside. First, we cook at a lower heat to get the potatoes tender, then drain them and crank up the heat for that golden brown crispness that we all love!
While, on the one hand, this sounds like a lot of work for a simple batch of fries, believe me when I say that the work is worth it. It’s not much more time and certainly not as much money as running out for fries, but the reward is far sweeter.
- 2-3 large russet potatoes
- vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- salt, to taste
- Wash off your potatoes and peel, if desired.
- Slice each potato lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices and slice each of these lengthwise into 8 or 9 sticks. Place all into a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to sit for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 3 hours.
- When you are ready to start frying, fill a fryer or heavy pot halfway with oil. Heat to 325.
- Drain off the water from the fries and place them onto a sheet pan with a triple thickness of paper towels. Top with another triple thickness of paper towels and press down lightly to remove as much water as possible.
- Cook in 3-4 batches at 325 for 4-5 minutes or until soft, but not beginning to brown. Drain on new paper towels.
- Turn your oil up to 400 and cook in 3-4 batches for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on new paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!