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Yesterday the kids and I cracked out our new deep fryer. I’d already cut some potatoes and stored them overnight in the fridge in cold water. Fresh, crispy fries are a beautiful thing, and I was giddy with anticipation! I had two methods I wanted to try. My lovely and eager assistant Fiona dried the potatoes while I put the oil in the fryer.
My sister had sent me a method she was curious about:
— Una Traynor (@utraynor) August 21, 2012
I told her I was on it! Since this method starts with cold oil, it would be the first I would try.
But after about ten minutes I knew that the cold start method was going to be a bust – there was no way I’d be able to cook these for an hour. The fries were cooking way too fast! This method was meant to be done in a pan, where you could regulate the flame. I’ve always been too chicken to deep fry over a flame.
This first batch of fries were dark brown on the outside after only 15 minutes while still being undercooked on the inside. I have no doubt that the recipe works, but not with my deep fryer. I mean, I suppose it would be possible to figure out which temperature to set the fryer to for how long to approximate what you could do with a pan, but that seemed like a lot of trouble. Next!
Now that the oil was hot, I tried just putting the potatoes in and frying until golden. Well, when they were golden outside (after about five minutes) they were still raw inside. I let them go for another five minutes, until they were as dark as I thought I could stand them. They were cooked on the inside by this point, but limp and soggy.
Had I bought a deep fryer for nothing? If I couldn’t even make a simple French fry, would I ever use it again?
If I ever meet the guy who wrote this post, I will kiss him on the mouth. (I hope his wife doesn’t mind – my lust is completely food and science related.) He’s an MIT grad and chef, and I think I love him.
He set out to make McDonald’s type fries, even going so far as to get a hold of frozen McDonald’s fries for studying (not an easy task!) and made dozens of batches in his quest to get it right.
I followed his instructions as closely as I could. My fries were already cut to 3/8 inches – the smallest my potato slicer goes – instead of the McDonald’s-like 1/4 inches. I also couldn’t get my oil quite as hot as his (it never got above 340 degrees). Consequently, I had to cook for a bit longer at each step, but it worked wonderfully.
His first step calls for boiling the potatoes in vinegar water. Don’t worry, there isn’t much vinegar (we couldn’t taste it at all in the finished fries), just enough to keep the potatoes from falling apart while cooking. I had to boil mine for an extra three minutes to get them cooked through.
post vinegar boil
Then you fry them for 50 seconds (I did mine for 75). At this point you can either let them cool and move on to the final fry, or freeze them. This is genius, because you can freeze a big batch, then just take them out and do the final fry as needed – just like McDonald’s!
Finally, you do another fry. I did mine for four minutes. I let them drain, then patted them with paper towels. I threw on some salt. I was almost afraid to taste them, because if this didn’t work I wasn’t sure I wanted to try again.
They. Were. Awesome.
I called the kids over to taste them, and Jake, in his über dramatic fashion, literally bowed down to me. Then he got up, hugged me, and told me that he was never going to eat McDonald’s fries again! Success!
I somehow limited myself to six of these wonderful fries (I’d already had four during the other tests, and believe it or not, I’m deep frying on a diet).
I moved on to hush puppies, something I fell in love with when I lived in North Carolina. There were a few restaurants we frequented that put them on the table as soon as we sat down, instead of bread. Man, I miss NC.
I went straight to Paula Deen for this one, figuring that she wouldn’t let me down with a fried food recipe. Sure enough, it worked great on the first try. I didn’t have self-rising flour or self-rising cornmeal (I’d never even heard of the second one), but it was easy enough to make substitutes by adding baking powder and salt (google it).
I left the onions out, since I knew my kids would want to add some powdered sugar. They tasted like little cornmeal doughnut holes – perfection! I limited myself to three small ones, and we were done frying.
I think I’m going to try vegetables next. I’d originally ordered the fryer a couple weeks ago after craving vegetable tempura. Oreos and candy bars can’t be far behind. :-)
The best part? The scale didn’t move between yesterday and today. If I can conquer moderation with a deep fryer in the house, I can do anything.
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