So there’s this place in Cleveland. BEST FRIES YOU’LL EVER EAT (it’s called The Greenhouse Tavern). They are so incredibly delicious that we went ahead and registered for a mini deep fryer just so we could bring the phenomenal taste into our own kitchen. Well, we wanted to make these fries among other things…
Once you have the deep fryer (and a mandoline), the actual preparation is as undemanding as it gets. You slice the fries (more on that in a minute), fry them (more on that coming, too), and then toss them with raw garlic, rosemary, and salt. That’s it. Not much of a recipe–potatoes, rosemary, garlic, and salt. We used ~2-3 little stalks of rosemary and 2 garlic cloves, crushed, for 3-5 potatoes. We used gold potatoes, but this could probably be adapted to almost any type of potato. Salt to taste!
A few things require some commentary/direction if you’re a newbie like we were.
First, the mandoline. Awesome new toy. There are two ways to slice fries using our mandoline (Oxo brand). The first way is to use the julienne/french fry feature, which involves slicing in both directions to make french fries as you go. The second involves slicing circles of potato to the thickness you want and then cutting with a knife. Obviously, the first way is the winner, right? Well no, not in our case.
Here are the results of each attempt:
|Method #1: Use the julienne/french fry tool on the mandoline
Results: Short little fries of all different thicknesses along with
a sliced finger that bled more than any cut I’ve had in the past
10 years. The potatoes got stuck in the mandoline, and my
attempts to remove the imprisoned potato were not well-received.
|Method #2: Slice the potatoes to the desired thickness and
then cut with a knife.
Results: A bit more effort up front, but all fingers remained intact,
and the fries were evenly sliced.
So in the case of our mandoline, Method #2 is the solid winner. We ended up scaling up when my in-laws (yes, my husband‘s parents are now legally related to me… that’s almost as strange as saying husband!) came down for the 4th of July. Maybe if you have a mandoline designed for commercial use (i.e. a very expensive mandoline), it can handle getting potatoes through that many blades at once, but we’ll stick with the second method for our french fry needs.
The next point that requires commentary is removing the excess potato starch: After you slice up your potatoes, there will be starchy liquid EVERYWHERE. Rinse the potatoes in a colander and clean up your mess. Then, sprinkle the raw french fries with a lot of table salt (like 2 tsp for 5 potatoes). Toss them around in the colander and let them sit for at least a half hour. Then you can squeeze them out in a towel or smush them with a lot of paper towels. The salt encourages the cells in the potato to release their starch. Finally, rinse the potato slices really well to remove most of the salt. If you’re worried about eating too much salt, there are probably ways to tell how much salt actually stays in the fries, but it’s really not very much.
If you’re not ready to fry just yet, put the sliced potatoes into a bowl of ice water until just before frying. We skipped the ice water the first time, and the fries did not suffer.
Finally, dry and fry the potatoes! The drying step should not be overlooked! We more or less followed the instructions that came with our deep fryer. Heat the oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, fry once at this “low temperature” to cook the potato, and then fry again at 375 degrees Fahrenheit to make them crispy. Drain on paper towels each time. The times listed in our deep fryer’s little cookbook were a bit long for us… maybe because the fries were smaller. Or it could be the type of potato. We used canola oil for frying, but you could use something else too. Just don’t try to fry with olive oil–it will smoke before reaching the right temperature.
Just pay attention–they should turn a little bit gold on the first fry, and then you should stop the second fry as soon as they turn a little bit brown. You have to do them in batches if you have a mini deep fryer, and make sure the oil has reached the temperature again before adding the next batch (it will drop from the addition of potatoes. Ours has a light that turns green when it’s ready. After frying, drain your potatoes and immediately toss with the garlic, rosemary, and salt!
|Our baby deep fryer by Cuisinart. French fries require two dips,
once at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and once at 375.
|After frying, immediately move fries onto a paper towel-lined plate
to remove any extra oil and then transfer to a bowl containing
your rosemary and raw garlic. Toss with salt, and seal your lips
so you don’t eat them all before they make it to the table.
A quick note: the garlic is raw, so you probably don’t want to eat it. It flavors the fries nicely, though. Now that I’m drooling just from posting this, I’d better go get a snack. I have a feeling we’ll make these fries several times a month while the rosemary is growing!