French Fries

Les Vraies Frites

The French say they invented 'frites', the Belgians also claim the bragging rights; who knows? But frites are today a key part of French culture and its cuisine. Here is a simple recipe from northern France.

There are different kinds of frites, which vary in thickness. The very thin ones are Pommes allumettes, or matchsticks. But the traditional recipe is for frites that are about 5mm thick, called Pommes Pont-Neuf, named it is said after the famous Parisian bridge on which they are supposed to have first been sold, a short while before the French Revolution in 1789.


INGREDIENTS

1 kg of starchy potatoes (King Edwards will do fine)

oil for cooking, either in a deep frying pan or in a deep-fat fryer

Salt to taste


METHOD

1. Cut the potatoes into 'chips' about 5mm thick [if you have a mandolin you may be able to set the thickness so that at the very least you get the first potato slice right, although the rest will have to be done by hand].

2. Put all the chips in a bowl of water and cover and set aside for about an hour to remove some of the starch.

3. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a cloth, and divide into batches of equal size.

4. Bring the oil to 150°C/300°F, and fry the chips in batches for about 7 minutes each batch.

5. Set aside the batches as you do them, and let them cool for about 30 minutes; putting them in the fridge will help.

6. Increase the oil temperature to 180°C/350°F, and again fry the chips in batches, this time for about 3-5 minutes until they are golden. Transfer each batch when cooked into a bowl lined with a paper kitchen towel, to drain.

7. Serve immediately; they will take a lot of salt at this stage.