All this talk about Hanukkah and potatoes and latkes and frying got me to thinking about a time years and years ago when my niece, then age 6 or so, came for the weekend. When she got home the first thing she reported to her Mom was this wondrous thing:
"Aunt Ronnie makes french fries from a potato!"
That became one of the official “family comments.” You know, the kind of thing we mention from time to time and no one ever forgets because it is so funny and so telling.
She thought french fries came from a box from the freezer. Much the way, when I was a little girl, I thought all fish except for salmon came from a rectangular box from the freezer.
Well, of course, french fries actually come from a potato. And the home made fries are so so so so much more delicious than the ones from the box. And crispier too.
Just like fresh fish. As opposed to frozen, packaged.
Sure, making french fries from scratch is a whole lot more work and it’s messier and your kitchen smells from oil afterwards (wait — this sounds just like making latkes!)
But try it once and you will soon learn the glories of french fries made from a potato.
And — as far as Hanukkah frying is concerned, french fries are easier to make than latkes.
To get rid of frying odors make a potpourri: a couple of cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, allspice berries, the peel of an orange. Maybe a hunk of fresh ginger. Stuff like that. Put them in a pot, cover with water and cook on low.
So here’s the recipe and the best way to cook crispy, wonderful french fries not using a box:
2 pounds Idaho potatoes (Russets)
vegetable oil (canola, peanut, soy)
Peel the potatoes and cut them into strips about 1/4-inch thick. Place the strips on paper towels to dry the surface. Heat several inches of vegetable oil (such as the ones suggested) in a large, deep pot (or fryer). Heat on medium-high to about 360 degrees (use a candy thermometer; a tiny piece of potato will sizzle when you put it into the hot fat). Working with a small batch at a time, immerse the strips and cook for 5-6 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown. Using a skimmer or fry basket, remove the fries and let cool for a minute or so, then place them back in the hot fat for 2-4 minutes longer, or until golden brown and crispy. Makes 4-6 servings
Note: to cook in advance: cook the fries in batches for 5-6 minutes. After removing the fries after the initial cooking, place them on paper towels. Just before serving, reheat the oil to 360-400 degrees. Working in batches, cook the partially-cooked fries for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.