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Saturday, March 9, 2013

How to make fast-food French fries?

Better than McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's fries
in my opinion. Oh and where else can you get tartar sauce
for dipping, other than Brussels?
So I was sitting in a cafe in Brussels about two weeks ago when we got to talking about how much I missed Brussels. Shannon decides at that moment to point out to my friends how I've practically become dependent on frites (french fries) since returning, to exemplify my home-sickness for Belgium. Sure, I'll admit I'm dealing with our separation the best I can.

Of course that's when Christie advises me she was curious how to make french fries. Apparently she had tried before, but her boyfriend felt they weren't up to par. I was rather surprised by that admission, as she has lived in Belgium for almost two years (the home of fries). Of course, then again, why would you make fries in Brussels when there is a friture (fry shop) on almost every corner? But it brought up a remarkably good point for me, often simple things, like making french-fries are still curiously difficult for people to prepare. You often take for granted what's commonplace for yourself, but that may not be as obvious to others.

One of the recipes in my book, is how to make low-fat fast foot french fries. The basic method is to take your fries, and par-cook them in the microwave, then to place in a bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil, then lay them out on a baking sheet and bake. That recipe, of course came from the full-fat version served in places like McDonald's (who stole their method from the Belge), but I never published it on the blog.

So I thought I'd give a good instructional on how to make real Belgian fast-foot fries. The real kind!

Today, most fast-foods have copied the Belgian method. It involves par-cooking, in a two stage process where you cook the fries till they're almost done, then let them sit out while the starches do their thing. McDonald's does exactly the same thing except their fries come in, already pre-cooked in frozen bags (similarly to the bags of fries you may find at your supermarket). They also use a beef-tallow in their oil to give it flavoring (which is almost impossible to get in the U.S. [McDonald's now synthesizes theirs]). So let's assume you have a raw potato, and let me walk you through my method of fries.

How to make fast-food French fries:

  1. Using a potato press or knife, create fries ("chips") from a raw potato.
  2. Take a sauce-pan of oil (peanut preferably [but any will do])  and pre-heat over high heat (375 F) (it should not reach the point of smoking).
  3. Drop a large handful of fries into the oil and reduce heat to medium-high.
  4. Cook time is about 10 minutes, but you will have to find that perfect time. Fries should be soft and only slightly brown.
  5. Remove from the heat, place in a metal strainer over a bowl, and allow the fries to sit for twenty minutes.
  6. Turn oil back on, and fry and additional 3-4 minutes.
  7. Season and/or salt and enjoy.
One of my favorite ways to eat fries is with the following seasoning. You can mix some up in a bowl, and shake it over your cooked fries.

  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of all-season salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • pinch of pepper