Homemade french fries are too often pale, limp, greasy, or otherwise wimpy. The signs of a successful fry: good color, a crisp skin, and a light, fluffy interior. This double-fry method makes it easy to achieve fries meeting all three criteria, perfect as the basis for poutine with beef gravy or for serving with burgers. That is, if you can resist poaching handfuls before the patties ever hit the buns.
Special equipment: You’ll need a 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot (cast-iron, enameled or not, is ideal) and a deep-fry thermometer. A 6- or 7-inch spider is also handy.
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed well
- Juice of 1 lemon
- About 3 quarts peanut or canola oil
- Kosher salt
- 1Cut the potatoes into sticks about 3 to 4 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. As you work, put the cut potatoes in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from discoloring from contact with the air. When you’re finished, drain and rinse the potatoes, then cover with fresh cold water, a couple handfuls of ice cubes, and the lemon juice. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- 2When you’re ready to fry, add the oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches in a 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°F. Drain the potatoes well, then spread on paper towels to dry. Blot dry with additional paper towels; you want them to be as dry as possible.
- 3Before you begin frying, line a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of sheets cut from a clean brown paper bag, or paper towels.
- 4Working in small batches, add the potatoes to the hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally with tongs or a spider, until tender and very lightly golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the fries using the spider or tongs. Drain on the lined baking sheet and let them cool for about 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining fries, letting the oil come back to 325°F between batches.
- 5After all the fries have cooled for at least 20 minutes, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the oil to a temperature of 375°F. Working in small batches again, return the potatoes to the oil. Fry, stirring occasionally with the tongs or spider, until they’re evenly crisp and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using the spider or tongs, transfer the fries to fresh sheets cut from a clean brown paper bag, or paper towels, to drain briefly. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately, with or without ketchup.
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