We realize that most of you probably already know how to prepare homemade french fries, but humour us. We couldn’t, in good conscious, omit posting on something so delicious just because it was so easy. Besides, easy does not mean straightforward and we have discovered that there are as many ways to fry potatoes as there are to eat them. We thought, maybe some of you have never cooked homemade french fries, or maybe you are confused about exactly which method to use. Maybe our parents can help.
Unless french fries are a last minute impulse, it is a really good idea to soak your cut up potatoes in cold water for several hours or overnight. The water helps remove much of the potato starch, which results in crispier fries that won’t stick together as they cook.
Speaking of cooking, frying potatoes is pretty dangerous, and not simply because of the hot oil (but more on that in a second). A real danger lies in the fact that fresh french fries are best eaten soon after they are made, before they get soggy and lose their crispness. So, if you’re the one doing the frying, drink a nice big glass of water before you start, or have a snack. Make these babies while you’re hungry and you may end up eating 5 pounds of potatoes before you call it a day.
But, back to the oil. Frying, although so good, requires caution. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when frying anything…including these potatoes. First, never, ever, ever step away from the frying pan. You need to keep a close eye on what you are doing, at all times, to prevent any mishaps. Second, don’t wear flouncy sleeves, and if you have Rapunzel-like hair, tie it back. In other words, anything which might accidentally end up in the hot oil, or touching the stove-top burner, is forbidden. Literally, forbidden! Third, if you have small children, out of control adults or out of control pets, use the back burner. Fourth, when you are done frying, never, ever, ever leave a pan or pot of oil sitting on your stove top “for next time”. This is a very dangerous practice. We can tell you from personal experience that it does not take much to wake up bleary-eyed one fine morning, stumble into the kitchen, place a kettle on the stovetop for tea, and accidentally turn on the wrong burner. Within minutes, that innocent pan of oil turned into a pretty aggressive flame and it was only thanks to a quick thinking, and fully awake husband who knew exactly how to handle a grease fire, that tragedy was averted. So, from then on and forever more, any oil which can potentially be re-used is cooled and then stored safely in a jar. For more information on how to safely deal with a grease fire (which hopefully you will never have to do) and other kitchen safety tips, click here.
Water and oil don’t mix, so after soaking your potatoes, make sure that they are dried before plunging them into the hot oil. As we have already mentioned, our parents don’t own a thermometer for the oil, so the way they know that the oil is hot enough is to drop in one potato and wait until it starts to sizzle. If the oil starts to smoke… it is too hot and needs to be turned down. At this point they add the potatoes in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. If you own a thermometer which can measure the temperature of the oil, aim for anywhere between 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our parents are not really sticklers for the type of potato they use, often frying up yellow fleshed potatoes, red skinned, or large russets. The trick is to use medium to large potatoes, otherwise you end up with small fries (which they don’t like). They cut them up so that each potato piece is about 1/4 inch thick but the actual size is less important than ensuring that they are all about the same size, so that they cook equally.
We know that there is a strong camp of people who believe that you must fry your potatoes twice, and that this is the only way to obtain maximum crispiness. Maybe. All we know is that our parents have never done that, and their potatoes turn out just fine.
What was that? You wanted to know what we believe to be the best way to eat homemade french fries? So happy you asked. For us, a plate of french fries is not complete without a sprinkling of sea salt, Greek oregano and a nice hunk of Greek feta cheese with some olives on the side.
Mia Kouppa: French Fries
- Potatoes (average 1 – 2 large potatoes per serving, depending on how hungry people are)
- Vegetable oil
- Sea salt
- Dried oregano
- Prepare your potatoes by peeling them, cutting them into 1/4 inch thick slices, and soaking them for at least an hour (longer is better) in cold water.
- Drain potatoes and dry using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Heat oil in deep frying pan or a pot (at least 1 inch of oil).
- Insert one potato and when that potato starts to sizzle, drop additional potatoes into the oil carefully. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook over medium / high heat for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown on all sides.
- Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and let drain in a colander lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt and oregano while still hot.
- Repeat with remaining potatoes. Enjoy.