Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pomme Frites

prop styling by Cindy Neberz

Ahhh french fries (pomme frites)! We all have an opinion I feel when it comes to what makes the perfect one. If you have ever successfully made them at home you will agree that homemade is the best. The oil is fresh, the potatoes are fresh and the taste is unbeatable.

Now I have to say that the day we shot this it was 90 degrees. Not the perfect day to run the deep fryer. However my friend and prop stylist Cindy and I had a plan to shoot and pomme frites was something on the list. 

The first time I went to France I had to try their fries or frites. They serve them a lot with mussels of which I am not a fan. But the frite is something I have a very strong love for. I like them crisp, to taste like a potato, not greasy, and salted just right. I love them with herbs, seasonings, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, oh and even that gooey bad for you yellow cheese. 

Back home in Chicago after our trip to France the next best frites I had were at Cyranos on Wells. Chef Didier actually taught me how to make them and gave me his secrets many years ago. 
 This past year my Aunt gave me her old deep fryer and the first thing I thought of was making the frites. I have tried it on the stove in a pan of grease and it does not work very well. The temp was too irregular. 

The grease you use and the temperature are key factors. I prefer to use peanut oil but vegetable or canola work very well also. The peanut oil can withstand a higher temperature without breaking down. That is why it is used a lot for wok cooking.

The potato of choice is russet or Idaho. You peel the potatoes and I cut them into very thin matchsticks. Always make sure they are uniform or close as you can so they cook similarly.
Next, as you cut the potatoes place them in a large bowl of water. They will oxidize and turn brown if you leave them out. After all your potatoes are cut you rinse them in the cold water which will remove excess starch. 
You drain them very well on paper towels. Then lay them on a cooling rack to dry out.

Get your grease ready according to your fryers directions. Start with a lower heat about 250 degrees F. 
When the grease is the right temperature you throw a layer of fries in the oil. Be careful not to splatter and of course do not have the kids near the fryer.
The key to the best frites is to double fry. So this first fry is a sort of blanching in oil. You are not looking for a golden color they will still be white. About 3 minutes. Be sure to have paper towel underneath. Keep doing this until all the frites are cooked once. Now freeze in a single layer on a tray. Freeze for at least 2 hrs. 

When ready to eat. Get the grease back up to temperature, 350-375 degrees F this time,  and  fry them until golden in color. Immediately take from oil and drain. Season with salt, herbs or whatever your pleasure is. 

Here we used fresh thyme to season!