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November 3, 2020
Cooking Crash Test: The best French fries

Today, I managed to prepare the best French fries for you and, to achieve this, I tried 9 different ways of preparation. In the following lines, I will share them all with you, deciding my favorite one at the end. That is, the one that will give you the best possible result both in terms of texture and color, as well as the taste of the potato! But before we begin, let us answer two basic questions. The first has to do with the seasoning of the potatoes. When should we salt our potatoes? Before, after, or at the end? I will answer you right away: Salt can be added either in the oil, or the water in which the potatoes are soaked or at the end of cooking when we let them drain from the excess oil. However, the best option is to add salt in the water we soak them, as well as at the end of cooking. Attention! Not a lot, but as much as it takes to bring out their wonderful taste. Finally, as far as our spices and herbs are concerned, they should be always added at the end.

The second question has to do with the potato variety you should use in order to prepare the ultimate French fries. So, which are the best ones? The ones with the yellow flesh or the others with the white one? White potatoes give us better boiled or oven-baked potatoes. Yellow potatoes, on the other hand, are ideal for frying, while they can also be made au gratin. This is because these potatoes become crispier and get a better color. Finally, whatever potatoes you choose, you should make sure to choose those that are not wrinkled and soft. Moreover, potatoes should be firm and -of course- you should avoid those that have green spots on their surface. And now that we clarified all this, let's see which is the best way to fry them!

French fries by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#1 FRIED

The processGet two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 6-7 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: Because it is - without a doubt - the easiest and fastest way to fry our potatoes.

Why we would reconsider: Because, no matter how we do it, frying potatoes is directly linked to…plenty of calories and saturated fat.

Extra Tip:  In this cooking method, the potato is fried without being previously soaked. This means that it has enough starch and sugars, and does not become crunchy, while it gets a bright color.

 

#2 SOAKED IN WATER AND FRIED

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick, and then place them in a bowl with water that should cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt into the bowl, stir, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the potatoes and let them dry (or dry them by using paper towels) so that all their moisture is gone. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 6-7 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it:  Because, in this way, our potatoes become crispy and get a beautiful, slightly golden color.

Why we would reconsider: Because there is a half-hour waiting time until we add the potatoes to the pot, which means that we will have to wait longer until we enjoy them.

Extra Tip: If you want, you can extend the soaking process and refrigerate the bowl with the water, potatoes, and salt for a day.

 

#3 SOAKED IN WATER WITH VINEGAR AND FRIED

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick, and then place them in a bowl with water that should cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 3 tablespoons vinegar into the bowl, stir, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the potatoes and let them dry (or dry them by using paper towels) so that all their moisture is gone. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over low heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 4-5 minutes until they are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot and transfer them to a baking pan. Then, turn up the heat to medium-high, add the potatoes back to the pot, and fry them for another 2-3 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: This cooking method gives us the crispiest potatoes, which also have a very good texture.

Why we would reconsider: Because it is more time-consuming than the regular process of frying the potatoes.

Extra Tip: It is important to pay attention to the temperature in the two stages of frying, in order not to burn or dry your potatoes.

 

#4 OIL-POACHED AND FRIED

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick, and then place them in a bowl with water that should cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt into the bowl, stir, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside for at least 30 minutes (if you want, for even better results, you can refrigerate the bowl for a day). After 30 minutes, drain the potatoes and let them dry (or dry them by using paper towels) so that all their moisture is gone. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over low heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 4-5 minutes until they are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot and transfer them to a baking pan. Then, turn up the heat to medium-high, add the potatoes back to the pot, and fry them for another 2-3 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: This cooking method gives us a pretty good result.

Why we would reconsider: Because the potatoes are again fried in two stages, which means it takes more effort and time.

Extra Tip: After the first frying stage, you can -if you want to- refrigerate the potatoes for 1-2 days before frying them completely.

 

#5 FROZEN AND FRIED

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over low heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 4-5 minutes until they are tender. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan lined with parchment paper to cool well. Once cool, cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours, until the potatoes are frozen. Place the pot with the oil back on heat, medium-high heat. Add the potatoes to the pot and fry them for 4-5 minutes, until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: With this cooking method, our potatoes become very crispy. It also allows us to store our potatoes in the freezer (after the first frying stage) and use them whenever we need them.

Why we would reconsider: Because we would like a more direct and fast way.

Extra Tip: In the second stage of frying, you have to add the potatoes into the hot oil while they are still frozen. It is important not to let them thaw.

 

#6 FRIED WITH CORNSTARCH

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1x1 cm thick. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over low heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 4-5 minutes until they are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot and transfer them to a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons corn starch into the bowl and mix it with the potatoes, until they are completely covered. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the potatoes back to the pot, and fry them for another 3-4 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: Thanks to the corn starch, it is very difficult for our potatoes to burn and not become crispy.

Why we would reconsider: If we like the bright color of the potatoes, we will not have it here since the corn starch will not let our potatoes turn golden brown.

Extra Tip: It is important not to use more corn starch than you really need, and you need to mix the potatoes well with it in order for it to spread evenly and go everywhere.

 

#7 BOILED AND FRIED

The process: Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1.5x1.5 cm thick. Place a pot with water over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 3 tablespoons vinegar into the pot and bring to a boil. Then, add the potatoes into the pot and boil them for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot and let them cool and remove their excess moisture in a baking pan. In a pot add sunflower oil, covering 4-5 cm of its height, and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes, and fry them for 4-5 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a baking pan whose surface you have previously covered with paper towels. Add salt, toss to coat, and serve.

Why we like it: Due to the boiling, the potatoes do not absorb as much oil as others do when fried.

Why we would reconsider: Because, with this cooking method, our potatoes do not become so crispy.

Extra Tip: You have to be careful not to over-boil the potatoes as they will break down during frying.

 

#8 OVEN-BAKED AND FRIED

The process: Preheat the oven to 180ο C (350ο F) set to fan. Rinse two yellow potatoes well. In a baking pan, add coarse salt - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the whole potatoes in the pan and bake them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are tender. When they are ready, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside until the potatoes are cool, for about 20 minutes. With your hands, lightly rub the potatoes in order to remove the extra salt. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and cut them into wedges. That is when you cut them in half and then you cut each piece into three smaller ones. Place a frying pan with sunflower oil over high heat. Once the oil is heated, carefully add the potatoes into the pan and fry them until they are nicely golden and crispy. In a bowl add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, a little finely chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and mix with a spoon. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pan and -as they are hot- throw them in the bowl with the spices and mix. Check the seasoning and serve your potatoes hot.

Why we like it: Since they are baked in the oven, they do not absorb much oil and are cooked better.

Why we would reconsider: Because it is a more complex process than the one we follow when preparing French fries.

Extra Tip: The cooking time of the potato in the oven may differ depending on the size of each potato. Therefore, it is important to use potatoes of relatively similar size and check them before removing them from the oven using a fork.

 

#9 OVEN-FRIED

The process: Preheat the oven to 230οC (450ο F) set to fan. Place a pot with water over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons vinegar and salt, and bring to a boil. Get two yellow potatoes. Peel them and cut them into long narrow strips, 1.5x1.5 cm thick. Add them into the water and boil them for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot and transfer them to a baking pan. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over them, toss to coat, and bake them for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip your potatoes over using a spatula and bake them for another 20 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove the potatoes from the oven, transfer them to a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

Why we like it: Because, with this cooking method, the potatoes are quite like French fries, but they do not have the same calories as them.

Why we would reconsider: Because they may be quite like French fries, but -in essence- they are baked.

Extra Tip: If we want, before serving our potatoes, we can sprinkle them with various herbs or with a little sweet paprika.

 

THE CONCLUSION

The truth is that no matter how you choose to prepare your potatoes, the result will be very tasty if you follow the steps and tips mentioned above. But if you want to enjoy the ULTIMATE French fries, then you should definitely try the cooking method that I describe to you in #8! Oven-baked and Fried, then - believe me - once you finish the process, you will have the most delicious French fries you have ever eaten! Why? Because this process combines two cooking methods that enhance the taste of the potato, which then becomes even better thanks to the mixture of herbs with which we coat them while they are still hot.

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