June has been sick. For almost a week straight. Not terribly – but intermittent fever, a little cough and runny nose, fatigue and, the real evidence, total loss of appetite.
For a day or two, I can handle it when she barely picks at her waffle or takes just a tiny slurp of chicken soup. But after 3 or 4 days of missing meals, I’m trying to make her anything that sounds appealing. (On a side note, I feel particlarly indulgent on the days I work and can't be home with her - damn guilt.) You want Nutella in your yogurt? Done. Ice cream sounds better than apple slices? Fine. A third cookie would help your cough? I’ve heard of stranger remedies.
So when she asked me for some French fries, I couldn’t say no. But, I didn’t feel quite right driving her to our local fast food chain…I already live with a fair amount of Catholic and Jewish guilt at baseline. So, instead, I decided to make ‘em.
As you know, I feel about home-fried foods the same way I feel about homemade desserts: homemade anything cannot be bad for you! And poor deep-frying has gotten such a bad rap by the Americana quest for “health,” I can’t help but feel a little protective of the method. The truth is deep frying is no worse than sautéing. In fact, probably less oil gets absorbed into the food because, when done correctly, the oil temperature is kept a little higher and more constant. It allows your food to brown and crisp beautifully on the outside, thus inhibiting further oil absorption internally, all the while allowing for ongoing cooking. And why are we afraid of oil anyway? I want to say something cheeky about American diet myths and the replication of poor science…but that's for another letter.
Ok. Off my soapbox now....
Homemade fries take a few steps, but not one of them is difficult. The key is soaking the cut potatoes and double frying (yup – I said double frying), first at a low temp to cook the potato, then again at a slightly higher one to brown the fry. But, if you can handle that, you won’t be sorry. In fact, you will be happy. So happy. And so will anyone in or near your kitchen at that particular time.
Thus, without further ado, here they are. Double deep-fried French fries.
Oh, wait!! As for June, she assured me she felt much better after the fries. So much better, in fact, she thought I should make them again tonight. You know, just to be safe.
Double Deep-Fried French Fries (serves 3-4)
3 Russet potatoes
Coarse sea salt
Peanut oil (or any other high smoke point oil) for frying, about 1 qt
Baking sheet, lined with paper towels
Scrub potatoes and peel, if you want. Cut into 1/4 inch thick slabs, then slice those into ¼ inch thick fries. Put in bowl and rinse once or twice with water, draining each time. Then fill bowl with clean water and let sit in fridge for at least 3 hours, and up to 24.
After soaking period, drain and pat, making sure to dry well. Using a candy or deep fry thermometer, heat peanut oil in a deep, heavy bottom saucepan until it reaches 275 degrees - you want at least an inch or two of oil in the pan. Fry a small batch of potatoes for 5-6 minutes, stirring a few times to keep them from sticking, and making sure not to crowd your pan or drop your temp too much. Remove with a slotted metal spoon and drain on paper towels. Do the same for any remaining potatoes. It is important during this first fry not to let your potatoes brown. If they are browning, your temp is probably too high.
After all of your potatoes have encountered their first fry, bring the oil temp up to 350. Now, fry your potatoes a second time, again in small batches, for 3-4 minutes, allowing them to cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with lots and lots of salt. Pepper is good, too. Serve immediately. We love ‘em with ketchup or homemade mayo.