French fries

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French fries are prepared in near-innumerable ways, with cooks often adding their own unique flairs. Click on the image above to be brought to a gallery of images depicting French fries from around the world.

French fries, or French-fried potatoes, or simply fries, are generally thin sticks of potato that have been deep-fried. They are similar to the chips eaten in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Commonwealth (excluding Canada). In spite of the name, they were initially developed, not in France, but most likely in Belgium. They have spread globally to become an occasional treat of nearly all indigenous cuisines, each with its own unique flair.

Cooking

(CC) Photo: Hayford Peirce
French fries cooking in the Joël Robuchon method
(CC) Photo: Hayford Peirce
French fries draining after cooking

Most cooks who prepare French fries at home from non-frozen potatoes that they have cut themselves cook them during a single immersion in a generous amount of oil preheated to a temperature around 375°F (190°C) until they are golden and slightly crisp. Many restaurants, however, especially those known for their excellent French fries, cook them in two batches: the first at a temperature that varies from chef to chef but that is generally around 350°F (177°C), until the fries are nearly cooked but still limp and pale; the second, after the first batch has been removed from the oil and allowed to cool, at a higher temperature, generally around 375°F (190°C), until they are golden and crisp, which normally takes less than a minute. A third method, invented by the celebrated French chef Joël Robuchon for the home cook, is to put the sliced potatoes into a saucepan with just enough cold oil in it to cover the potatoes, then to cook them over high heat until golden, stirring occasionally.

Condiments

French fries are nearly always salted before serving. Additionally, they are typically served with a condiment or two that depends upon the locality in which they are served and what they are served alongside of, if anything. The most common condiment with fries in the Americas is tomato ketchup, although honey mustard and barbecue sauce are also often enjoyed. Other condiments include malt vinegar (the U.K. with traditional fish and chips), gravy poutine (Canada), banana ketchup (Philippines), mayonnaise (Micronesia, Belgium, and the Netherlands).

Tips

  • Use peanut oil to deep fat fry the French fries.
  • Immediately salt the hot French fries once they are removed from the fryer.
  • Use a spider to remove the hot fries from oil or purchase a deep fat fryer.
  • Safety: Never overfill a pot with oil as hot oil burns.
  • Drain the French fries on the paper towels to help drain off the excess fat.

Political controversy

During the initial discord between United States and France about the 2003 war in Iraq, the French fries in the three cafeterias of the United States House of Representatives were temporarily renamed "freedom fries".[1]

Notes

(CC) Photo: Gary Tanner
Chips, which are generally thicker than fries, are widely eaten in the United Kingdom and many other countries.

See also