French Fries From Scratch – Much Easier Than I Thought

Collage part 2Most food-allergy sufferers cannot order french fries, even if they can eat potatoes.  Why is this? While they sit and watch their friends and family enjoy heavenly crispy morsel after another (french fries are very popular for a reason), the food-allergy sufferer must think of all of the allergens that have been in the frying oil such as breaded chicken, dropped bits of beef, cheese and (for people who suffer from nut allergies) the oil itself is in question. Many restaurants cook french fries and other things in peanut oil. For peanut-allergy sufferers, they can’t even walk into a restaurant using the oil because it gets everywhere. Soy oil is also problematic.

And even if one could go into the restaurant and be okay, how horrible is it to sit there and take in the intense and tempting aroma of golden fries right out of the cooker? I am no psychology expert, but I can say first hand that it is a special kind of torture. And the longer it goes on, the more intense it is. For this reason, food-allergy sufferers have altogether stopped going into fast food chains and restaurants because it’s just too depressing not to be able to order the fries. Lucky for my family, my strong cravings for these things became a bit overwhelming , resulting in a strong intent to learn how to make them once and for all.

Honestly, french fries shouldn’t be unfriendly to the food allergic. When simply prepared in the right oil, they are crispy, salty, delicious hot morsels of heaven that are safe for everyone. And what joy is this? To master the art of preparing french fries?  I really thought it was going to take me several weeks to months (as has the gluten-free baking experiments). Ultimately, it was not as overwhelming of a task as I had thought.

I won’t lie, it isn’t initially easy if you don’t know the art of the fryer. But, aside from my continuing biscuit experimentation, this is a much quicker learning curve. Potatoes are a little finicky. They need time and/or surface area to cook. At first I tried to oven fry them and that took way too long – mostly because I cut them too big. And then I tried a soak and oven bake method, along with a frying method while I was waiting for the oven fries. All of those fries came out with decent results but the process was just too long and time-consuming. I don’t have time to soak and dry and all of that. When you want fries, you want them ASAP. So, I skipped all of the soaking that my tome of cooking wisdom instructed me to do and cut them smaller (which creates more surface area for cooking), and everything came out just the way I wanted.

So, here is how to do it. Remember, it’s an art. So forgive yourself as you learn the nuances of how the oil behaves according to your burner. And don’t walk away from the fries… ever. (Trust me on this).

Directions:

Note:  don’t let the oil get too hot because once it reaches the smoke point, your fries are going to taste burnt. Once your oil reaches the frying temperature of “water test” (when you put a tiny drop of water in the oil and it sizzles), keep it at a medium to med-high.

So, learn that, know it, and fry some heck out of your fries.

You will need

– russet potatoes (a 5 lb bad will do). Figure about 1.5 potatoes for each person.

– canola oil or a vegetable oil that has a high smoke point (do not use olive oil)

– salt

– ketchup (if you like it)

1. Peel, wash and cut your potatoes into french fry shapes (about 1/4 inch thick). If they are too big, they are going to take longer to cook. I cut about 4 russet potatoes for the 3 of us.

2. Warm about 1 inch of oil in a heavy bottom large deep skillet. (Do not use non-stick skillet as it will warp – they are not meant for deep frying).

3. Drop the french fries in the pan, but not too many. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan as you want all of the fries immersed in the oil.

4. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Look for a very deep golden brown color. If they are light brown, they might be soggy.

French Fries Ready
This is the color you want before you take them out.

5. Scoop them out and set onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Salt fairly generously – be careful with the salt. Too much and they’re ruined. You can always add a little more and a little more. Salt while they are hot or the salt won’t stick to the fries. I used the edges of the paper towels to shuffle the fries around in the salt.

There you go! Fries craving = Satisfied. (The boys loved them, too).