Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Burger Bar's Perfect French Fries

The book "Burger Bar" by Hubert Keller with Penelope Wisner, available here, purports to have a recipe for 'perfect' French fries. Here it is:

Perfect French Fries

Serves 4

Perfection takes time. Three days, in fact. The long soaking leaches starch from the potatoes so they turn golden and crispy on the outside and white and fluffy on the inside.

Build your own: Depending on how you choose to cut your potatoes, you can make fat or skinny fries, wedges or shoestrings. Skins on or off, your choice. I like to serve fries in small earthenware flowerpots. You could also fashion a cone of parchment paper and fit it inside a narrow glass as a holder, then fill the cone with fries.

4 large (about 2 pounds) potatoes, preferably russets, peeled, if desired
6 to 8 cups vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying
Coarse sea salt

Place the potatoes in a pan of cold water to cover, then let them soak overnight, refrigerated. The next day, drain and cut them. For skinny fries, cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut these lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips. For fat fries, simply increase the width of your slices. For wedges, cut the potatoes lengthwise in half, then cut the halves into wedges. To make evenly sized wedges, if the potatoes are very fat, you may need to cut a lengthwise slice out of the middle of the potato and either discard it or cut it into fat fries. For shoestrings, use the julienne blade of a mandoline and cut the potatoes into very fine strips. However they are cut, place the potatoes in a bowl, cover with cold water, and again let them soak overnight, refrigerated.

When ready to fry, drain the potatoes well and pat dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Cover a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Put 2 cups of oil per potato in a deep, heavy pot or deep fryer. The oil should fill the pot at least one-third full.

Heat it to 250˚F. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until they are cooked through but remain almost white, about 5 minutes. Drain on the prepared baking sheet. The fries may be prepared up to this point several hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Just before serving, heat the oil to 360˚F. Again working in batches, fry the potatoes until they are golden and crisp. The timing will depend on the size you have cut your potatoes, but allow about 3 minutes for skinny fries. When done, drain them briefly on paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt. Scoop them into a bowl and serve immediately.

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