Perfection takes time. Three days, in fact. A long, luxurious soak in cold water leaches the starch from the potatoes so they turn golden and crispy on the outside, white and fluffy on the inside.
Depending on how you choose to cut your potatoes, you can make fat or skinny fries, wedges or shoestrings. Skin on or off, your choice.
I like to serve fries in small earthenware flowerpots. You could also fashion a cone of parchment paper and fit it inside a narrow glass as a holder, then fill the cone with fries.–Hubert Keller and Penelope Wisner
Perfect French Fries
Serves 4 to 6
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Place the potatoes in a pan of cold water to cover, then let them soak overnight, refrigerated.
The next day, drain the potatoes. Then cut them:
For skinny fries, cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut these lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
For fat fries, cut them lengthwise into thick slices, then cut these lengthwise into thick strips.
For steakhouse-style wedges, cut the potatoes lengthwise in half, then cut them lengthwise again into wedges. If the potatoes are quite fat, you may need to cut a lengthwise slice out of the middle of the potato and either discard it or cut it into fat fries.
For shoestring fries, use the julienne blade of a mandoline and cut the potatoes into very fine strips.
However you cut them, place the fries in a bowl, cover with cold water, and let them soak overnight again, refrigerated.
When ready to fry, drain the potatoes well and pat them completely dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Cover a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels or a brown paper bag. Pour 2 cups of oil per potato into a deep, heavy pot or deep fryer. The oil should fill the pot at least 1/3 full. Heat it to 250°F (121°C). Working in batches, fry the potatoes until they’re tender and cooked through but remain almost white in appearance, about 5 minutes. Dump them on the prepared baking sheet and spread them out to cool. The fries may be prepared up to this point several hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Just before serving, heat the oil to 360°F (182°C) and line a baking sheet with fresh paper towels or a new brown paper bag. Working in batches again, fry the potatoes until they’re golden and crisp. The timing will depend on the size of your fries, but figure about 3 minutes for skinny fries. Drain them briefly on the baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt. Scoop them into a serving vessel of some sort or just snatch them from the heap on the baking sheet and serve immediately.
Perfect French Fries Recipe © 2009 Hubert Keller and Penelope Wisner. Photo © 2009 Bill Milne. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.