French fries as interestingly textured and as good as the ones you enjoy in great restaurants.
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 6), peeled
1 quart vegetable oil for deep-frying
about 1 cup cornstarch for light coating
1. Trim potatoes in the shape of a rectangle. Cut into 1/4-inch slices and then cut into 1/4-inch fries. Put in a bowl of cold water and soak for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. (The longer they soak, the more starch is removed and the crispier the french fries will be.)
2. When ready to fry, heat oil in a deep, heavy, straight-sided pot to 340 degrees. Add a small batch of potatoes straight from the water. (Stand back as the oil will splatter. Make sure to separate the french fries from each other, with a fork, right after you add them to the oil.) Fry the potatoes, in small batches, for about 3 to 4 minutes, until they look blistered on the surface. (This step essentially blanches the potatoes, so there should be very little color on the potatoes.) Remove to a sheet tray lined with paper towels.
3. When ready to serve, heat oil to 390 degrees. Place the once-cooked potatoes in a large colander, and toss lightly with cornstarch. Fry potatoes, again in small batches, for about 2 minutes, until french fries are deep golden brown and surface is a little crinkly. (You might even see blisters on the french fries.) Remove to a sheet tray lined with paper towels and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Serve immediately for maximum crispiness.
French fries, of course, have been, are, and will continue to be the most popular form of deep-fried potatoes. They even gained a new status in the eighties, when serious restaurants serving the New California cooking took french fries from the bistro and put them on fancier, more ambitious menus. But there is a problem: french fries made at home often fall short of french fries made in restaurants. The chief difference is in texture: homemade fries tend to be slick and smooth on the outside, restaurant fries tend to be more nubbly. By following the recipe above, you'll make french fries as interestingly textured and as good as the ones you enjoy in great restaurants.