What's So Special About French Fries?

French fries are delicious.  That is all.

Well, it should be all we need to say about french fries but I feel the need to detail what I mean by french fries.  Fair warning, this may feel a little soap box-ish to some.

You see, somewhere along the line we accepted that fries can come pre-cut, pre-formed, pre-cooked and processed into something beyond a simple potato.  It's probably due to the fact that it takes more time to cut a potato than it does to open a bag.  Also knives are sharp and freezer bags don't bleed and cry like we do.  So we consume fries from fast food joints and from the freezer to the fryer or oven and we settle for something that doesn't taste as good as its origin (potatoes).  I get the convenience aspect but, honestly it's not that complicated to do fried potatoes right.  It's also much, much less expensive.

Let's deal with the cost side first.  Fryer oil, salt and any other seasonings are necessary in both processed and scratch-made fries.  I can order russet potatoes for $0.40/lb.  I can order pre-cut "natural" frozen fries for $0.80/lb.  Twice the food cost simply to have someone else cut my fries.  Not worth it.  (These are wholesale prices but the math works the same way with grocery store prices).

But the larger reason for cutting your own fries is the quality.  Russet (Idaho) potatoes are simple, starchy, and perfect for frying.  No fillers, sugar, preservatives or flavorings needed.  A salty, crispy outside, fluffy inside, stick of delicious.  Simple food is great food.

The Lexington School Kitchen Crew celebrates the quality of good fries periodically during the school year.  Quality and simplicity are our guiding influences.

TLS Fries

Idaho Potatoes cut strips 3/8 inch thick  (We have a special hand-crank contraption for this, but a knife will work just as well)
Fryer oil and deep fryer
Salt (Pepper if you would like)

Rinse cut potatoes with plenty of water and dry completely.
Fry once at 270 degrees for 6 minutes  (this is called blanching or par-cooking the fries).  Remove from fryer and drain thoroughly.
Increase fryer temperature to 400 degrees.
Fry potatoes again for 2-4 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
Toss with salt in a large bowl.  Serve immediately.


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