And coloring the outside, which means caramelizing the

The potato of the moment is often a soggy disappointment

FEW foods cross as many boundaries as the french fry. It is trashy fast food in a paper pouch, it Canada Goose Online is the inseparable partner to hanger steaks in lively brasseries, it is the austere, perfect batonette, a work of fine chefs.

And it is as pervasive as it is adaptable. With bistro food becoming the everyday equivalent of pizza and countless Belgian restaurants serving frites, the french fry seems to be everywhere.

You wouldn’t think something so simple could cause so many major groups from university agricultural research centers to cookware manufacturers and legions of restaurant cooks to obsess. But it has. And now I join them.

Determined to master french fries at home, I worried over the various techniques and tried them all. Over the last few weeks, the smell of cooking fats from peanut oil to beef fat has taken over my apartment. I’ve eaten my weight in cheap Canada Goose french canada goose clearance sale fries.

But I did not start in the kitchen. I started on the street. Balthazar beckoned. Its fries best enjoyed at the bar with a drink are potato and oil harmonized. Served like thin pencils lined up in a cup, they are as crunchy as chips on the outside, amply potatoey but not dry. A lemon mayonnaise on the side is dangerously good. So good, in fact, that as I covered a fry like a sock with the mayonnaise and ate it, I forgot about the fries.

”You have such uk canada goose a fine line between an excellent french fry and a not so excellent french fry,” said Riad Nasr, an executive chef at the restaurant. He uses Idaho potatoes, which the cooks peel, soak in refrigerated water for eight hours, cut into long thin sticks and soak for eight hours more before frying. The soaking, Mr. Nasr said, is the secret to the crisp texture of the fries. It draws out the starch, making them more rigid and less likely to stick together. The cooks fry them twice, first blanching them until slightly limp in peanut oil heated to 325 canada goose store degrees, and again in 375 degree oil to crisp and brown them. All for something that costs just $6.

At Patroon, one cook’s sole job is to do the french fries. (Imagine the turnover rate.) Les Halles treats them like caviar.

”We are very, very canadian goose jacket hung up on our cheap canada goose uk fries around here,” said Anthony Bourdain, the chef at Les Halles. ”It’s the first thing I look at when I come in in the morning.” The fries are a little fatter and more moist than canada goose uk shop those at Balthazar like creamy mashed potatoes in Canada Goose Parka a crisp shell.

How Les Halles arrives at them, though, couldn’t be more different. The potatoes are hardly soaked at all and are cooked at different temperatures. ”Too much starch leaches out and it changes the sugar content and the starch,” Mr. Bourdain said. ”All Canada Goose online the good stuff ends up in the water, and the potato starts behaving weirdly.”

That was the first sign of trouble. I began to sense a long road ahead.

It was time to get in the kitchen.

First, I focused on technique, deciding whether to cut and fry, or go the extra mile and soak. To simplify, I used Idaho potatoes and peanut oil for these initial forays.

And I regret to report that going the extra mile was markedly better. I peeled the potatoes and soaked them in water for eight hours, then cut and soaked them for eight hours longer. Before frying them, I laid them out on dish buy canada goose jacket cheap towels and let them dry completely. (This is important to prevent oil from bubbling up when the potatoes are dropped in.) The double soaked fries snapped under my teeth and seemed lighter.

I Canada Goose sale DREDGED one batch in potato starch before frying, as some fast food Canada Goose Coats On Sale restaurants do to assure a crisp outer shell. The fries were crisp, but the starch gathered into tiny balls on the surface and did not brown well.

I also played around with canada goose coats on sale the temperatures, blanching some fries at 275 degrees and finishing them at 375, others at 300 and 400. The trick is to fry them as quickly as possible, so they have less time to absorb the oil, but not so quickly that they brown before they cook canada goose clearance inside. Fries cut the way I like them slightly thinner than a quarter of canada goose outlet store locations an inch cook quickly. Blanched at 300 degrees, the fries cooked through in two minutes without browning. And finishing them at 375 made it easier to control the browning. At 400 degrees, many charred before I had a chance to strain them.

Testing french frying equipment was an unfortunate detour. Initially, I uk canada goose outlet gravitated toward the highly specific: french fry cutters and an electric deep fryer that controlled the temperature.

French fry cutters are much like garlic presses, squeezing the potato through a sharp grid. But they cut too thick more than a quarter inch in even the smallest grid. And it is impossible to push through a whole potato. So you end up with fat, stubby sticks that look like nuggets, not fries. Mandolines work, but so does a chef’s knife.

I got out a ruler and began cutting the potatoes lengthwise into sticks. They weren’t what you would call perfect, but I found that this variety translates into more taste variability. The buy canada goose jacket thinner ones brown and have a deeper nut flavor; the thicker ones stay blond and heavy on potato flavor.

An electric deep fryer was possibly the least pleasurable piece of cookware I’ve ever used. It was much like using a washing machine and looked like one on the counter. You pour the oil in, heat it, add the potatoes and close the lid. And you have no idea what’s going on inside until the buzzer goes off. It was promptly abandoned.

Again, I resorted to basic equipment: a stove top deep fryer. The most effective model is a large round pan, about six inches deep, with tall handles where the metal basket can rest to let the oil drain. I hooked a candy thermometer on the side of the pan to regulate the temperature.

Next I addressed the ingredients, first and foremost the potatoes. I had always considered the Idaho potato its proper name is Russet Burbank plebeian, something that canada goose black friday sale large growers pushed on the American public because it was cheap to grow and high in yield. Baked, it has about as much appeal as ground canada goose uk outlet up chalk.

But almost every chef I spoke with used it. And I discovered myself that it does have a greater purpose when fried in oil. Its interior expands like a souffle and turns creamy, and its exterior becomes crispy before absorbing too much oil. And coloring the outside, which means caramelizing the potato’s sugars, gives it just the right bitterness. French fries need a canada goose coats touch of bitterness and loamy canada goose flavor, smoothed out with fat.

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When a potato is deep fried, its water content is replaced by the fat; you want a potato that has more canada goose factory sale solids than liquids, so it absorbs less oil.

Makers of frozen french fries and fast food companies are well aware of this. Researchers at the University of Idaho and the University of Guelph in Ontario have been working for years Canada Goose Outlet to develop potatoes that outshine the ubiquitous Idaho. It is longer than the Idaho, has a higher percentage of dry matter and suffers less Canada Goose Jackets from ”hollow heart,” a growth problem that makes it impossible to cut long fries. The agricultural canada goose uk black friday biotechnology division of the Monsanto Company hopes to introduce a high solids potato in a few years for the commercial market. For consumers, more solids means less oil to clog arteries; for restaurants, less oil means lower cost.

In Belgium, french fries are made with a yellow flesh potato that is dense and fairly dry. B. Frites, a Belgian french fry takeout restaurant near Times Square, uses the Maris Piper, grown in Colorado. It replicates the Belgian potato, said Skel Islamaj, the chef. He gave me a few to try. They have a more rounded flavor and a less mealy texture, and are more filling than the Idaho. They make a great fry. But alas, they are not available to buy. Only the Idaho is.

Salt was about the only ingredient I was set on. I wanted large crystals that melt on the tongue and crunch under the teeth. The only solution: a coarse salt. Kosher salt is pleasant, mellow and appropriately humble for a dish of potatoes and oil. Fries seasoned with fleur de sel weren’t bad, either.