Homemade French fries are crazy delicious. The best fries are double-fried, first at a lower temperature to cook them through, then again in hotter oil to crisp them up to golden perfection. This recipe is very flexible—you can make as many or as few fries as you like. Plan on one large potato's worth of fries per person if serving as a side dish.
The trick is balancing the inconvenience of frying several batches (and the counter space and time it demands) with cooking enough to make the hassle of frying worthwhile. Many people will find four to six large potatoes for four to eight people do-able and worthwhile. Homemade fries are a traditional accompaniment with hamburgers, grilled steak, or steamed mussels.
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Cut the Potatoes
First, you'll either want to peel the potatoes...or not. Peeling the potatoes is optional and comes down to personal preference. Peeled or unpeeled, the cut is absolutely key when making fries. If you have a kitchen mandoline this is the time to break it out and use it. If not, cut each potato in half the long way, lay the cut side flat on the cutting surface and cut into 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Stack these slices and cut into the same width sticks. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
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Fry the Potatoes
Bring at least two inches of oil in a large heavy pot to about 325 F. Once the oil is hot, fry the potatoes, in batches if necessary, for about five minutes. The fries should be cooked through but still as pale as they were when you put them in the oil.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Drain and Cool the Half-Done Fries
Lift the fries out of the oil using a slotted spoon or fry basket. Drain them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet or on layers of clean paper towels. Let sit until completely cool—at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
At this point, you can stash the fries in the fridge and finish frying them the next day. Let them warm up a bit before frying again.
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Fry the Potatoes Again
Bring the oil up to the 350 F to 375 F range. Use a thermometer or test the oil by dropping a fry in it—the oil should immediately sizzle around the fry actively but not violently. If it sputters and sizzles aggressively, bring the temperature down until you get an active yet steady sizzle when you add a fry to the oil.
Add the fries, working in batches if necessary to keep them in a single layer in the oil, and cook until golden or starting to turn golden brown, depending on how well done you like your fries, about five minutes.
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Serve Your Homemade French Fries
If you're salting your fries, season them while they are draining and still hot.
To serve, pile them onto a platter or into a bowl. If you've made a particularly large batch for a crowd, consider serving them on a layer of brown butcher paper in the middle of the table—it's heaps of fun. No matter how you serve them, be sure to serve the fries while they're still warm.