Homemade french fries Step-by-step 1. Wash your potatoes, and peel them if you like. Leaving the peels on gives a more rustic look, while taking them off will give you a better chance of having all your pieces looking exactly alike. Your call. 2. For perfectly shaped fries, cut the potato into a box shape by first trimming off both ends, then cutting straight down along one side to create a flat surface. Roll the potato onto that surface, and cut straight down on a second side. Do that two more times, and you'll have a nice little oblong potato box. Cut the box into 1/4-inch thick planks, then lay the planks down and cut them into sticks that are as long as the potato and 1/4-inch square on the ends. These are your fries. 3. Place the fries in a large bowl of cold water. This rinses away some of the surface starch, making it more likely that the fries will not stick together while cooking. 4. Fill a large, heavy pot halfway with vegetable oil and heat it to 250 to 300 degrees. It's important to use a frying thermometer because it's vital that the first frying is done at a lower temperature than the second. 5. Add your fries in batches that will not overcrowd the pot. Fry them gently until they are cooked through but not browned at all, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel-lined sheet tray. Cool them to room temperature before proceeding. (Alternately, you can hold them overnight in the refrigerator; just bring to room temp before the second frying.) 6. Just before serving, heat the oil to 325-350 degrees, and add the blanched fries in batches. Cook them until they are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, then remove, season and serve immediately. "And you need to eat them with mayonnaise," says Vandaele. "That's the Belgian way, the real way." Spice 'em up Once you've mastered the french fry technique, you may want to branch out, flavorwise. Take inspiration from the cute little book "French Fries," by Zac Williams. You'll find dozens of seasoning ideas from Parmesan to mustard-salt. Try the garlic fries: Saute 2 minced cloves garlic in a little olive oil. Stir in 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle over hot fries.
Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune
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