Make Amazing Crisp French Fries at Home (Plus Buttternut Squash Fries)

Chow on 11.05.12
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Image: Sarah Fernandez

While they may not be the best thing for the hips, I am a big fan of French fries. I try not to indulge too often and limit myself to eating them on occasion when dining out or sticking to a baked version when at home. I’ve never even really considered making them myself but a recipe for Slow-Fried French Fries in the September issue of Bon Appetit caught my eye, and I’d wanted to give them a shot. I put it on my long to-do list and figured I’d get to it someday this winter, but when my father recently sent me an email with the same recipe saying he had made them for my mother’s birthday dinner and that they were the best they’d ever had I decided not to wait for a rainy day.

Photo: Sarah Fernandez

2 pounds potatoes
72 ounces vegetable oil (or enough to cover the fries completely in the pot)

raw french fries

Photo: Sarah Fernandez

1. Wash the potatoes and slice them into long, thin strips.

2. Rinse the cut potatoes and shake to remove excess water.

french fries cooking

Image: Sarah Fernandez

3. Place the potatoes in a large heavy pot and pour in the vegetable oil. You'll want to cover the potatoes by about half an inch with the oil, and I suggest having more oil than recommended on hand just to be on the safe side as I found it took much more than I had anticipated when judging by the eye.

4. Cook the fries over medium heat for 45 minutes being sure to loosen and separate them every few minutes so that they don't stick to each other or the bottom of the pot.

homemade french fries

Image: Sarah Fernandez

5. Turn the heat up to medium high and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, continuing to separate them until they are golden and crispy. Keep a watchful eye on them to prevent over-cooking as it can happen fast. 

6. Turn heat off and transfer the fries to a paper towel lined plate using tongs or a slotted spoon.

7. Season to taste with sea salt.

squash fries cooking

Image: Sarah Fernandez

Now awhile back I got turned on to roasted butternut squash fries as a good alternative to standard French fries and while they are delicious roasted, I wondered how they would come out using the same recipe for potatoes and since I have an abundance of butternut squash from my garden, I decided to give it a shot while I was trying out the potato recipe. And I must say they turned out absolutely delicious, but they didn't require as much cooking time as the potato fries. For the butternut squash fries, I should have taken them out of the pot after the 45 minutes of cooking over medium heat.

butternut squash fries
Image: Sarah Fernandez

I had continued cooking them over medium high heat for a few more minutes and they got a bit too golden, but they still tasted good. If I had just skipped those last few minutes over the increased heat I think they would have been perfect.

Certainly, making French fries at home should be reserved for a special occasion and not become a daily treat. But making French fries this way is a good reminder of how much better food tastes when cooked from scratch, and if you're going to indulge in a food that shouldn't be eaten on a regular basis, you might as well make it in the most delicious way possible rather than wasting those calories on a frozen fries that a restaurant pops into the fryer.

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