I just finished a portion of wonderful homemade french fries.
The men’s club at First UMC Shelbyville normally has breakfast on the second Sunday of each month. We’d been taking a summer break which I had thought, until last night, would be ending this morning.
I’m a part of the kitchen crew for this, and my normal job is to dice potatoes and onions and cook our home fries. The dicing takes about half an hour, from the time I arrive at 6:30 until about 7.
I had seen one of those as-seen-on-TV gizmos, a piston-style contraption that cuts a potato into perfect batons for french fries. I thought this might speed up the process; use the gadget to cut the potato lengthwise, then all I’d have to do with a knife is cut a stack of batons crossways into perfect dice. And it wasn’t that expensive; only $9.99 at one of the national drug store chains. I picked one up while I was out shopping yesterday.
I touched base with Andy Borders, the master of all things culinary at FUMC, last night to confirm that we were going to have breakfast today. Good thing I did; Andy had decided to put things off a bit longer.
Well, I decided to go ahead and get some use out of my gadget anyway – for its intended purpose. I bought a potato at the grocery store after church, and came home and fried it. The as-seen-on-TV gadget worked just fine, and was easy to use once I actually looked at the directions.
I’ve gone over this before, but if you’ve never made homemade french fries there’s a secret to it. The secret is that they have to be fried twice. After cutting the fries, you want to soak them in water (the longer the better, but I settled for a very brief soak today). Then, you fry them twice. You fry them once, at a lower temperature, until they are limp but cooked completely through. Then you remove them from the oil and set them aside to cool off. You crank the oil up to a higher temperature and fry them a second time, much more briefly, just to put a perfect golden crust on them.
This is also how the frozen french fries used by restaurant chains work. The first fry takes place at a factory, and the potatoes are flash-frozen afterward. Then, the fries are thawed and fried a second time at the restaurant. If you buy frozen french fries from the supermarket, you can either fry them a second time or else substitute that second fry with some time in the oven, which is what most of us do, and they come out just fine. The package generally gives you the directions for either approach.
But there’s something special about freshly cut, twice-fried french fries at home, seasoned just how you like them. They were fine just as they were, but I had a little A1 sauce on a few of them.