Since we were good and made zucchini fries yesterday, it’s totally legit to balance things out with the real deal today, right?
There was a time not all that long ago that 99 out of 100 times I’d have picked the sweet snack over the salty. I still have a major sweet tooth, but these days I’m really loving all things salty – potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and especially french fries. It always seems that at this time of year when we start grilling burgers, my cravings for fries increases tenfold. Burgers and fries, they’re just meant to be together! I almost never have potatoes on hand, though, so in reality we probably only make french fries at home two or three times a year, placing them squarely in the “special treat” column for us.
When I was working on last week’s meal plan I penciled in burgers for Friday night. And then I decided if we were having burgers, why not also grab some potatoes and make french fries to celebrate the start of the long weekend? I knew we’d discovered a few great baked versions, but I was in the mood to fry! (Side note – I’ve become way more comfortable frying in the past year, still trying to decide if that’s a good or bad thing…) As I scanned my archives, I realized we’d only ever made baked fries, and had yet to try our hand at frying them. It was time to remedy that!
We decided to go with steak fries, for no real reason other than it saved us the step of peeling the potatoes. The recipe was surprisingly simple and though there are a few steps, you can do some of the prep ahead of time so these fries are even a viable option when you’re short on time. Potato wedges are first soaked in ice water, then fried twice – first with the oil at a lower temperature just to soften them and start cooking the insides, and afterward at a higher temperature to crisp them up and brown the exterior. It was all we could do to let them cool for a minute so we wouldn’t burn our tongues when we tried them. They were completely irresistible: golden brown and crisp on the outside with a tender interior. As good, if not better, than any we’ve ever had out at a restaurant, take-out or sit down. Our only challenge going forward is to exercise the necessary restraint to keep these fries from becoming a summer staple
Crispy Steak Fries
from Cook’s Illustrated
4 large russet potatoes, (about 2 1/2 lbs), scrubbed
2 quarts canola or peanut oil, for frying
To cut the potatoes into wedges: Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then cut each of those halves in half lengthwise so you end up with each potato quartered. Slice each quarter into 3 wedges (lengthwise again), so you end up with approximately 3/4-inch thick wedges.
Add the fries to a large bowl and cover them with cold water by at least an inch. Add ice cubes on top to cover. Refrigerate the fries for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 3 days.
Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven and set the pot over medium-high heat (make sure you use a large pot – the oil will bubble when you add the fries so you need room at the top). Heat the oil until it reaches 325 F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, drain the potatoes then dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel. When the oil reaches temperature, add the fries a handful at a time until you’ve added them all. (The oil temperature is going to drop quite a bit (as much as 60 degrees) so don’t worry if that happens.) Fry the wedges, stirring frequently with a spider strainer, until they soften and become golden in color, about 10 minutes. Remove the fries from the oil with the strainer and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Allow the wedges to rest for at least 10 minutes. (At this point you can leave them at room temp for up to 2 hours, or wrap in paper towels and freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to a month.)
Heat the oil to 350 F. Add the wedges back to the pot and, stirring frequently, cook for 8-10 minutes, or until browned and crisp. While the potatoes are frying, set a wire rack inside of a baking sheet and line the rack with paper towels. Remove the fries from the oil with the strainer and transfer to the rack. Immediately season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately for the most crisp fries. They soften slightly as they sit, but are still really good.