Creating a crisp french fry involves much more than simply cutting up some potatoes and lowering them into hot oil. The perfect fry starts even before you make your first slice, with choosing the right potato and storing it for even cooking. The type of oil, the cooking time and a couple little-known cooking techniques are all factors on the quest to true french fry crispness.
Most restaurants and many home kitchens use the deep-fried method of cooking french fries. This cooking method on its own is enough to make the fries crispy, provided you use the proper oil, temperature and cooking time. Use an oil with a high smoking point such as peanut or vegetable, and for the ideal crispness, it is important to fry the french fries twice. The first time, fry them in batches for roughly 5 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until they are tender but still limp. Remove them to paper towel-lined racks. Increase the temperature of the oil to 375 F and fry them a second time for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are golden and crisp on the outside. Remove them and place them back on paper towels to drain and cool.
In the Oven
Cooking french fries in the oven is a way to be able to enjoy the taste of french fries and avoid some of the fat associated with frying. In order to get the same crispy coating, cut the potatoes into as uniform-sized pieces as possible to ensure even baking. Then soak them for roughly 20 minutes to remove starch and dry them well. The baking time for ideal oven crispness is about 30 minutes at 450 F.
One thing that improves crispness is to use potatoes that were stored above the standard refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures the starches inside won't convert to sugar too quickly. Home cooks can ask their local grocer how the potatoes were stored to find potatoes that meet this criteria.
Seasoning is a big part of the ideal french fry, and seasoning when they are still hot is the key. The best time to add salt is when the french fries come out of the oil and onto the paper towels. The salt will adhere to the hot french fry and make for a more enjoyable meal. Add herbs like rosemary, dill or thyme to salt for added flavor, and experiment with flavored mayonnaise as a delicate complement to your fry's crunch.
- Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images