01 of 09
Prepare to Fry
Homemade French fries are crazy delicious. The best fries are double-fried, first at a lower temperature to cook them through, then drained and allowed to cool before being dipped into hotter oil to crisp them up to golden perfection.
This recipe is very flexible—you can make as many or as few French fries as you like. I plan on at least one large potato worth of French fries per person, but I've certainly made do with less and I've often seen people eat many, many more. I try to balance... the inconvenience of doing several batches (and the counter space and time it demands) with doing enough to make the hassle of frying (what with the hot oil and the draining and whatnot) worthwhile. I find doing 4 to 6 potatoes for 4 to 8 people do-able and worthwhile. Homemade fries are both the traditional accompaniment and a particular treat with perfect hamburgers, juicy seared steak, or steamed mussels.
Besides potatoes, you'll need a large pot and enough vegetable oil, canola oil, or lard so you have about 2 inches deep in that pot. You'll want plenty of paper towels for draining. I like to drain the fries on a cooling rack over a baking sheet (in lieu of paper towels for a single batch, as an initial draining spot before transferring them to paper towels for multiple batches). You'll also need a slotted spoon or similar utensil for fetching the fries out of the hot oil. A thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil is a nice but not necessary tool to have. When it comes time to serve them, I imagine you'll also want to have some salt on hand.Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Cut the Potatoes
Whether you peel the potatoes or not is up to you.
Peeled or not, the cut is absolutely key when making French fries. If you have a kitchen mandoline, this is the time to break it out and use it. If not, cut each potato in half the long way, lay the cut side flat on the cutting surface and cut into 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Stack these slices and cut into the same width sticks. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
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03 of 09
Soak the Potatoes
Put the cut potatoes in a large bowl, cover with cool water, and soak for at least 20 minutes. This step pulls out excess starch, resulting in fluffier and crisper fries.
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04 of 09
Drain and Dry the Potatoes
Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Arrange them in a single layer to drain and cool thoroughly.
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05 of 09
Bring at least 2 inches of oil in a large heavy pot to about 325F. Fry potatoes, in batches if necessary, at this fairly low temperature until the fries are cooked through but still as pale as they were when you put them in the oil, about 5 minutes.
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06 of 09
Drain and Cool Semi-Done Fries
Lift fries out of the oil using a slotted spoon or frying basket. Drain them on a cooling rack (set over a baking sheet or pan to catch the drips) or on layers of paper towels. Let sit until completely cool – at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
Note: You can prepare the fries up through this step up to a day ahead of serving them.
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07 of 09
Fry Until Golden
Bring the oil up to the 350F-375F range. Use a thermometer or test the oil by dropping a fry in it – the oil should sizzle actively, but not violently, around the fry immediately. If it sputters and sizzles aggressively, bring the temperature down until you get an active yet steady sizzle when you add a fry to the oil.
Add the fries, working in batches if necessary, and cook until golden or starting to turn golden brown, depending on how well done you like your fries, about 5 minutes.
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08 of 09
Lift the fries out of the oil with a slotted spoon or frying basket. Drain them, again, on a cooling rack set over a pan or on layers of paper towels.
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09 of 09
Salt and Serve French Fries
I like to sprinkle fries with fine sea salt while they are still laid out in a single layer draining. Then I pile them onto a platter, into a bowl, or, if I've made a particularly large batch for a crowd, on a layer of brown paper in the middle of the table. Be sure to serve the fries while they're still warm.