Oh, delicious French fry, how you elude me in my own kitchen. You’re so yummy, but you’re such a pain to make.
There’s the soaking in cold water. The first fry to cook your insides. Then the second fry to crisp you up. You’re so good when you’re fresh out of the oil. But, honestly? I’d rather just order you when I’m out.
You can imagine my surprise when I came across a one-step recipe for French fries in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated.
No soaking? Only one fry? Start the potatoes in cold (yes, cold) oil? Come on. I had to try it. And man, am I glad I did. Hands down, these are the easiest, most delicious fries I’ve ever made.
The Cook’s Illustrated article explains that, because of how starch interacts with the frying oil, this method will only work well with a less starchy potato, like the Yukon Gold.
I couldn’t wait. I hit the market for some spuds.
And whaddaya know? This method really does produce a crisp French fry that’s crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
I’m a convert. I’ll never make double-fried French fries again.
Super Simple French Fries
2 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4-5 large potatoes)
6 cups peanut oil
Line a sheet pan or large plate with a few layers of paper towels. Set it aside.
Then grab your potatoes. The skins are thin, so I didn’t bother peeling them. Just give ’em a good scrub and dry them well.
Cut out any eyes with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
Cut the round edges off the potato, so that you have a fairly solid rectangle.
Cut the long sides in three or four sticks.
Then cut the potato into fries.
You want them to be about a quarter-inch thick, which looks about like this (balanced on my 10-inch butcher’s knife).
Cut the rest of your potatoes into fries the same way.
Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Clip on a deep-frying thermometer, if you like—strictly for curiosity’s sake. (My oil hit about 325 degrees and held steady.) Pour in the peanut oil.
Put the cut potatoes into the cold oil. (That’s right, you heard me: Don’t turn the heat on yet.)
When all the potatoes are in the oil, wiggle them around with a pair of tongs so that they’re all submerged. (Feels wrong, doesn’t it? Just you wait.)
Now turn the heat on high. And wait. After about 3 or 4 minutes, small bubbles should start to appear in the oil. (Still feels kinda wrong, ya?)
After about 5 minutes or so, the oil should come to a rolling boil.
Fry the potatoes like this for 15 minutes, untouched. Don’t stir them at all. Just keep an eye on the pot.
After about 15 minutes, some of the fries should have floated to the surface of the oil. You should see them just starting to turn brown.
Give them a stir with a long set of tongs to loosen them up. If any are stuck to the bottom, give them a nudge to unwedge them.
Fry like this, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp, golden, and done to your liking.
I yanked mine when they looked like this:
Fish them out of the oil with a spider or large slotted spoon. Let them drip for a sec over the pot to lose any excess oil.
Transfer to your paper-towel lined pan or plate.
Sprinkle with kosher salt when they’re hot out of the oil. (This helps the salt stick better.)
Serve and enjoy (and gobble and inhale)!