Published July 1, 1996.
Bathe the raw potatoes in ice water, spike the oil with bacon grease if you like, always fry twice, and use a brown grocery bag for draining.
We've had great french fries in the usual places--steakhouses, drive-in restaurants, and fish joints. But efforts to re-create them at home have always disappointed, with fries that were greasy or droopy or burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. Drive-in fare was far superior.
We wanted to find a recipe and method for the home cook that would rival restaurant french fries. For us, the ideal fry would be long and crisp, with right-angle sides, a nice crunch on the outside, and an earthy potato taste. Its bass flavor note would be rustic, like a mushroom, and its high note hint of the oil in which it was created. It should definitely not droop, and its color should be two-toned, blond with hints of brown.
The russet Burbank baking potato, often called the "Idaho," turned out to be the best choice, frying up with all the qualities we required. Because these are starchy potatoes, it is important to rinse the starch off the surface after cutting the potato into fries. Then refrigerate the potatoes in a bowl of ice water for at least 30 minutes. When the potatoes first enter the hot oil, they are nearly frozen, which allows a slow, thorough cooking of the inner potato pulp. Double-frying the potatoes is also key. The first fry at a relatively low temperature secures a soft and rich-tasting interior; the quick second fry at a higher temperature crisps and colors the exterior.list of recipes