Home > Cooking, Eating, Prep > Elite Pommes Frites – Goes Great With Meat!

Elite Pommes Frites – Goes Great With Meat!

Fancy French Fries

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I’ve got a lot of posts chambered, and I’m doing quite well in keeping up with the requisite pace to get the whole book done in a year. But I’m really bad at video editing, and anyway I’m doing it on an iphone, or with video taken from one, so it’s not super easy. I’m just sayin’ – I’m cooking faster than I’m writing or editing.

So I actually made the pommes frites a couple of weeks ago, the same time as my previous letter, Quasi-Steak Frites. But they warrant their own entry, given how fries are really a lot harder than you’d think. I’ts not just a case of slicing up some potatoes and throwing them in a fryer, after all. I couldn’t find “GPOD 70” Idaho potatoes, either, and everyone I asked for gave me a sort of wall-eyed goggly look, like I’d asked them if I could borrow their shoes or something. But I got potatoes that LOOK a lot like the ones in your book, so hopefully, that’s good enough.

Boss, the meez! The meez is here, Boss!

I did find a cheap fryer, too. I mean like $35.00 at Costco, plus some peanut oil. This will likely be the death of me; either from the predictable coronary, or from some hideous scalding accident. Even if I don’t end up dead, I’ll probably be scarred and shrivelled like Darth Vader. If only they’d actually done that to Hayden Christiansen. You know how you are with Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray? That’s about how I feel about everyone who had anything to do with the Star Wars “Prequels”. It was like…someone got the Beatles back together, and they were a “nu-metal” group.

But I digress.  Pommes frites. French fries. Despite their probable Belgian origin and French pedigree, this has become a quintessentially American dish, so everyone has an opinion. I can throw down something obscure like Skate Grenoublet, and no one knows how it stacks up against other versions – they just know if it’s good or bad. But fries? They have t his vast storehouse of precedent to compare against, so it’s a tough sell. You can’t fuck ’em up, and even if you don’t they have to be pretty amazing to be memorable.

I had a super-cheapo mandolin slicer that I picked up at a local extreme-discount store. I think it was $5.00, tops. The same damn thing will cost you $75.00 at a fancy, rich-white-person’s kitchen supply store, but it worked like a charm.  I tried a few slices to get the right width of slice, and compared what seemed about right with what MLF thought looked good. She has strong opinions about just about everything, but especially about French food. Then I clicked in the little dingus that does the lateral cuts at the same time as the horizontal cuts, and ZIP, I had raw French Fries soaking in cold water.

Works on fingers just as well as potatoes.

I let them soak for a while, then threw them in the fryer at medium heat to blanche them. I took seriously your imprecation to not fry before blanching, and the fryer had a temperature gauge that worked perfectly for that purpose.  At this point they looked pretty nasty, to tell the truth – whitish and limp and greasy. I’m glad no one caught me at my work, they might have lost faith.

Kinda limp and nasty, like Dick Cheney

Then I cranked up the temp on the fryer to max, and started to finish the fries. Here is a video of their beautiful, fry-y burbling, the sweet sound of water being evaporated out of food and replaced with pure, glistening fat. Is anything more lovely?

I did them in small batches so all the fries had room to float free. In between batches, I let the temperature of the oil go back up. I suspect that, at the end of the day, they might have been a little underdone even so, but that was as hot as my fryer will go.

I followed also your trick of putting them in a bowl lined with a prep towel, and then seasoned – then whisked the towel out. I tried to do this with all the panache of a magician flourishing a tablecloth out from under a vase – “The flowers are still standing!” but this ended up flinging hot fries all over the kitchen. This was a delight to Assistant Chef Bourdain, who by the holy compact between man and dog is entitled to anything that hits the floor. Not so popular with MLF, who takes a dim view of the messes my kitchen projects leave anyway.

Anyway, the towel soaks up a little bit of the grease and leaves the fries nice and crispy and not at all oily. After that it’s just serve and enjoy. Happily my last batch of flies was done exactly when all the other food was just ready to serve, so it all came out just as people were sitting down – perfect timing, something rarely accomplished. This meant I got to sit down with everyone myself and enjoy the meal with them. I’ll let you in on a little secret, Chef – that’s the real reason I’m doing this. Sure, I like to eat good food, but even more I like to share good food with people I like.

These weren’t TOO much trouble, so I don’t doubt I’ll end up making them again, and using this method. They were light and crispy and nicely seasoned, but still a little bit creamy on the inside – and I could taste the potato as well as the oil, which you’ll never get at a fast food joint. Since I have the luxury of using fresh oil every time, too, I’ve probably got an advantage over commercial kitchens at even really good bistros and brasseries – but I have no way to prove that.

Let’s fry more stuff!


Categories: Cooking, Eating, Prep
  1. Mike V.
    December 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    Now that you have a fryer, a vast, wide-open vista of delicious is available to you. Scotch eggs! Oreos in pancake batter! Cheese wrapped in ham wrapped in funnel cake! Breaded, bacon-wrapped clams! The world is your deep-fried oyster!

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