Think long and hard before you make French fries this way. Once you start, there’s no looking back. Trust me.
I was dubious when I saw Nigella Lawson starting potatoes in cold oil (she added whole garlic cloves and herbs near the end and called them Tuscan fries). I could only imagine soggy chips soaked in grease. It looked too good to be true. Normally, when I make fries, I par boil cut-up potatoes for five to seven minutes then let them cool on a rack. Then I deep fry them at a moderately high heat to cook them through. Back to the rack they go while the oil reaches high heat. One more fry until the potatoes are golden brown. This method produces fries that are perfectly soft in the middle yet crispy on the outside. And, because it’s so much work to make fries this way, they are an occasional treat.
Then I made the mistake of trying the cold-oil method.
These are too easy and too good. The same soft interior of the best fries, a beautiful crunchy exterior. A fraction of the work. Now, as I think about making dinner – it doesn’t really matter what I am planning to cook – I think, I’d like fries with that.
Consider yourself warned.
Adapted from this recipe by Nigella Lawson
Four or five large Russet potatoes, cut into chunky chips
Enough Canola or corn oil to cover the potatoes
In a large, fairly deep pan (I use a big Dutch oven) lay the cut-up potatoes in a layer (it doesn’t matter if they overlap) and cover with room-temperature oil.
Heat pan over high heat until oil boils vigorously. Reduce heat to medium-high so the oil maintains a steady bubble. Cook for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally – and very carefully – with a slotted spoon to loosen fries stuck to the sides or bottom of the pan.
When the fries are golden – and soft in the middle – remove with a slotted spoon to a colander lined with paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy!