Sunday, November 07, 2004

french fries & freedom

I think the whole thing with "freedom fries" was ricidulous when the French protested going to Iraq, as ridiculous as saurkraut was called "liberty cabbage" during World War II. Thank goodness that whole naming nonsense is over, too bad the war is not, because war sucks.

Anyway, a few years ago my mom & I were vacationing in Desert Hot Springs when we met an old friend of hers for dinner at the Capri restaurant. Turns out he was the owner of a Fatburger restaurant in Palm Springs (by the Palm Springs Airport), and had worked in food service/restaurant management for many years. Somehow we got to talking about french fries, and he divulged an excellent tip, for which I am forever grateful.

Normally, if you just fry potatoes in hot oil, they tend to take on a lot of oil, even if the oil is hot. Hence the result is a french fry that tastes like the kind you get at In-N-Out Burger: very "potatoey" but kind of oily and soggy. Then, if you go to Burger King, McDougals or another burger franchise you will get a fry which is exceedingly crispy on the outside and tender and chewy on the inside. I prefer the second kind, so this tip is very handy.

Here's the tip: before deep frying your french fries, blanch them in a big pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain the fries, pat them dry with towels, and then deep fry as usualy. You will find you have a fry that is much more crunchy on the outside yet fully cooked & chewy in the middle. You will note that many franchise actually pre-cook their fries in a factory, freeze & package them, and then re-fry them in the restaurant. This will give an even crispier outside coating. Enjoy!

Incidentally, always fry in oil that is at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius); it's best to push the oil towards 375 degrees, although on most oils, anything much higher than 375 deg. F. (190 deg. Celsius) will cause the oil to start breaking down, i.e., burning. Don't deep fry in oils such as olive oil, they have a much lower burning/smoking point, and you won't be able to get them hot enough to fry successfully. Corn oil or canola oil are good for deep frying. I personally prefer Mazola corn oil; it tastes very clean and smooth to my palate, although not as "flavor free" as canola oil.

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