Last time in our series of cooking potatoes we talked about How to Make the Perfect Roast Potato. This time I’d like to get a little more complicated and cover the basics of how I like to fry a potato.
Anyone who’s been by our restaurant will know that all of our fries and chips are made fresh on site. We typically use Idaho potatoes for these, however I use New Potatoes for the chips served at the bar – they are prettier for display purposes with the red skin.
Fried potatoes can be time-consuming to make and cutting the chips with a mandolin is dangerous so be careful when going through the following process!
Getting to it- Frying a Potato
I grew up in Belgium where the “French Fry” was originally invented. Back in the day I was lucky enough to have Madame Bollain teach me how to make perfect fries and I like to think that I’ve done her tutelage justice.
After cutting the potatoes (with the skin left on of course), soak them in water over night. Afterward, rinse in cold water and pat to dry. If you don’t have a deep-fat fryer at home, the next best thing is to use a cast-iron frying pan. Heat some shortening (which can be saved and re-used after) to 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer (which I don’t at home), just make sure at least that the the oil doesn’t smoke.
Trick: If you put a small piece of bread in the fat and it bubbles to the surface, you’re oil is at the right temperature for frying!.
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At the restaurant we use a special canola oil, an ingredient that may be considered less healthy by the “powers that be”, but given what it does for the flavor of the final product it is definitely worth the “sacrifice”.
Something else to remember is that the potatoes harvested around the beginning of August the beginning of November are very watery. Do not use these for your fries as you’re learning. Starting off on these potatoes will just make you discouraged. Anyway, back to work!
Have a few card-board egg cartons on hand to drain the chips or fries before you get started with the frying.
You will be frying the potatoes in two stages so to start out with put a lot of potatoes in the first frying to keep the temperature down. The first cooking is for blanching and there should be no color to the potatoes when they transfer to the egg cartons.
For the second cooking, don’t overload the pan. Turn the chips or fries so they brown all over. It is also important to move the oil around so the potatoes don’t stick. This will also keep the temperature even and a bit higher. When the potatoes are golden brown, scoop them out with tongs or a basket spoon onto the egg cartons. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. The salt clings to the potatoes and helps to pull out the fat. Put them in a bowl, shake them up a bit and serve (warm, if possible).
At the restaurant, we use homemade potato chips as a bar snack and as a side with our BBQ chicken sandwich. Whenever any of our kids’ schools had a fundraiser, they would always ask for the chips.
The Sweet Version
To make sweet potato fries or chips follow the same procedure, but don’t soak in water over night.
And that’s it for Part 2 of our “How to Cook a Potato” series! I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions or comments, or would like to share some stories of your own of frying a potato, please let me know in the comments below!