When I was a senior in high school I took French 1 just for fun, which at that point a lot of people thought was a little ridiculous (especially all of the sophomores in my class who were just trying to get the credit they needed). But I kind of love foreign languages, and I had taken Spanish until there were no more Spanish classes left for me to take. So a little bit of French just for fun seemed like the next step.
Even though I enjoyed the class, I’m not sure I could say much in French now. Je m’appelle Erin. And I don’t really have much beyond that. But one thing I did learn, was oh my goodness the French have good food. I mean, I kind of knew this, what with the pastries and the world fame and all. But there in my textbook, in our vocabulary lesson on food was the word Steak-Frites. It took me a minute to get it because it was so basic. Steak…served with fries…and it has it’s own name? It’s not just steak with a side of fries? But an actual dish in which the fries are an integral part? And is this even sophisticated enough for French food? Answers: yes, yes, yes, and yes. Needless to say I ordered steak-frites in every classroom restaurant skit from there on out, although unfortunately one never appeared before me.
I had kind of forgotten about the dish until a few weeks ago when we were at a wedding in which I had steak and the kids plates had fries and I suddenly remembered that I have always meant to put these together ever since French class. So last weekend, I did. And really, homemade fries are not as complicated as you think. Sure it take a little time to cut them, and sure there is that whole frying in hot oil thing. But for a nice steak dinner, it is completely worth it.
These fries were crispy and salty on the outside and soft and creamy in the middle, like only the best fries are. Even after only their first fry, I couldn’t stop stealing them off of the plate. But it is the second frying that really makes them worthwhile. By putting them in the oil for a second time, after they’ve cooled and turned limp, they crisp up into perfect crunchiness while still maintaining that soft comfort of potatoes we all crave. And now that I know how easy this is to do, steak-frites might become a regular dinner around here (as far as special occasions go) and it turns out I won’t have to travel to France for it after all (although that, that would be nice).
adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Wait Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
2 large russet potatoes
1 quart peanut or vegetable oil
1. To prepare the potatoes, peel them and then cut them into 1/4 inch strips. Rinse the potatoes well in cold water. Then cover them with at least 1 inch of cold water and top them with a few scoops of ice. Refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
2. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat the oil, using a candy thermometer to read the temperature. Heat to 325 degrees. (Make sure there is plenty of room between the oil and the top of the pot because the oil will bubble up.)
3. While the oil is heating, remove the potatoes from the fridge. Drain them and pat them dry (the drier they are, the better they will fry).
5. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes (this is probably need to be done in 2 batches). Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are beginning to turn a light brown color. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then add the next batch and cook the same way.
6. Right before serving, return the first batch to the hot oil (you want to make sure they have been able to cool for at least 10 minutes though). Cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper. Then repeat with the second batch. Serve hot.