Have you ever wondered the secret behind achieving a perfectly cooked, golden brown French fry that’s soft and moist on the inside but crunchy on the outside? Well it isn’t hard to do, it just takes a little planning, but is definitely worth it.
In fact, if you don’t find these streak fries to be absolutely delicious, then the only thing I can conclude is there must be something wrong with your taste buds, and I would seriously consider going to get yourself checked out to see if your taste receptors are working properly.
*Warning: this post is going to be long, but it has a lot to cover. If you want to jump straight to the recipe, click here: Steak Fries
This recipe works not only for steak fries, but most other types as well. I only labeled it that way, because that is the type of French fry I prefer. Not only is it a healthier choice because there is more potato and less oil when compared to smaller cut fries, but thicker cut fries just pack more substance underneath the crispy outer layer.
The only thing that will change is how long to cook the fries for. Smaller fries won’t need as much time in the oil as larger cut fries. But I am assuming you guys already knew that.
Certain potatoes work best. Try using Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes. Bintje is the ideal choice since that is what they use in Belgium (which is arguably where you will find the best fries), but good luck finding them unless you live there.
Believe it or not, France didn’t put the famous French fry on the map. Historians claim that the origin of the French fry can be traced back to the late 1600’s. It is believed that poor villagers living in Meuse Valley fried the small fish they would catch in the river, but when the river would freeze over during the winter, they had to find an alternate source of food, and that is where the potato comes in.
I don’t know if it is true, but supposedly the villagers cut the potatoes into small strips to resemble the fish before frying them, and thus the idea of French fries was born.
During World War I, American soldiers who were stationed in Belgium got their first taste of that unusual new food and immediately took a liking to it.
Since the official language of the Belgian army was French, the soldiers nicknamed the fried potatoes “French fries” and the name caught on and that is what they have been called ever since. That’s the official story anyway. I don’t particularly care where they got their name, I just know that they are one of the most popular side dishes around.
The double fry method works for most kinds of French fries
Okay, now that the history lesson is out of the way with and we have selected the right potato for our fries, the next step is to grab your handy peeler and get to work.
Unless of course you like fries with the skin on, which some people prefer. Just make sure you give them a good rinse to get any dirt off the skin.
Once the potatoes have been peeled, it’s time to cut them into strips. As you can see from the picture, I have sliced these potatoes thick, just like the classic steak fry and they are all pretty close to the same size.
Don’t overlook this point. Keeping them close to the same size will ensure they cook evenly throughout, so you don’t find yourself with some fries that are overcooked and some that are undercooked.
Once you are satisfied with your potato slices, it’s time to throw them in some water for a bit. Let them soak for about 30 minutes minimum. A couple of hours is ideal if you have the time, and maybe even change the water out once during the soaking process.
The reason for this is that it eliminates excess starch on the potato, keeping them from sticking together so much. Like I mentioned earlier, perfectly cooked homemade fries aren’t hard to make, but it does require a little planning.
Be very careful when cooking with hot oil
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but if you have cooked with any type of oil you know that oil and water don’t mix. Make sure you don’t take them directly from the water to the frying oil because it will splatter and possibly burn you if you have the oil up to temperature.
Also, when deep frying with oil there is a possibility that burned oil can catch on fire, so be mindful of this fact especially if you are using a large pot on the stove.
Now that the potatoes have had sufficient time soaking in the water, they need to be dried. Remove the potato slices from the water and lay them out on whatever you want such as a paper bag or a few paper towels.
Kitchen towels work well because they aren’t as wasteful and you can dry the potatoes quicker by folding the towel over them and pressing both sides of the towel against the potato slices.
Authentic Belgian fries were originally cooked in ox fat, or even horse fat. And it can be argued that vegetable oil is a big no no. I for one however, have no desire to cook my potatoes in the fat from a horse. Vegetable oil is just fine with me, but many people prefer to use peanut oil.
I’m not going to get into the details of what type of oil is absolutely best, simply because there are many different opinions on this, but if you don’t have a preference then just stick with vegetable or peanut oil. Also, the oil will start breaking down overtime as it gets heated and then cooled. So if the batch of oil you have been using is old, you should swap it out for some new stuff.
Place a thermometer in the oil and heat it to 325° F (162° C). Once the oil is ready, carefully drop a couple handfuls of the fries into the oil. Or if you prefer, a pair of long tongs works well here, but don’t add too many because it will cool the oil down too much and take longer to get back up to temperature. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the steak fries tend to become soggier.
The first fry takes substantially longer
Keep the fries in the oil for roughly 10 – 12 minutes. All we want at this point is for the steak fries to start getting some color to them. The tips will most likely start darkening first and that’s fine. Remove the fries with the tongs or a slotted spoon and place them on some paper towels or a wire rack to cool down. Or if you have a deep fryer just lift the basket out and let the excess oil drain off.
At this point, the steak fries can now be left until you are ready for the second frying which will crisp the outside and give it a nice golden brown color while leaving the inside moist and fluffy. That is really all there is to making excellent homemade fries. Frying them twice.
At this point, you can leave the steak fries for basically as long as you want, but try to let them sit out for at least half an hour before frying them for the second time. When you are ready, heat the oil up again, but this time heat it up to 375° F (190° C) before adding the fries back to the oil.
This time they only need to cook for about 2 minutes before crisping up and turning the beautiful golden brown color we want. Remove the fries from the oil, sprinkle a little salt on them and serve.
That’s all there is to it. Your guests will love that you served them up a side of fresh, piping hot French fries that look like they came from a fancy restaurant.
By: Semiserious Chefs
- 4-6 Russet potatoes (medium to large is fine)
- Oil for frying
- salt (to taste)
- Peel skin from potatoes and rinse them under cold water to remove any dirt or grime.
- Slice potatoes into multiple lengthwise sections and then lay each section flat. Begin slicing steak fry shaped pieces from those. The sides of each fry should be roughly 1/2 an inch or so. But don’t worry if they end up being a little larger than that measurement.
- Transfer the sliced steak fries to a large bowl and cover with cold water. Give them a good shake with your hand and let them sit for at least half an hour. You might need to replace the water at some point.
- Remove fries from water and place on a large towel so they can dry. You can even grab the edges of the towel and wrap them over the fries, giving them a good rub to help them dry quicker.
- While the French fries are drying, begin preheating a deep fryer or a deep sauce pan filled with enough oil to cover the fries to 325° F (162° C)
- Working in small badges, gently drop a couple handfuls of fries into the oil and let them cook for 7 – 8 minutes or until they are just starting to turn golden around the edges of the fry. If you have extra thick fries, you may need to let them cook for a bit longer.
- Remove the fries by either lifting the basket from a deep fryer or by using a pair of long tongs.
- Place the fries on a metal rack and let them sit for 20 – 30 minutes or even longer if you need.
- Repeat this process for all the steak fries.
- When all the fries have been cooked one time and have been allowed to rest for 20 – 30 minutes, increase the heat of the frying oil to 375° F (190° C).
- Again, working in small batches, gently drop a couple handfuls of fries into the oil.
- This time however, the fries will only need to stay in the frying oil for around 2 minutes. They’ll begin turning a nice golden brown fairly quickly so be ready to remove them from the oil once they are done cooking.
- Let dry on a rack for 5 minutes, remove and place in a large bowl where you can salt the fries and toss them to coat evenly. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.