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Hand-Cut French Fries

Serve these fries alongside burgers, your favorite sandwiches or grilled shrimp (see related recipe at left). For a more rustic appearance, the potatoes are left unpeeled.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. (1 kg) baking potatoes, each about 4 inches (10 cm) long
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Cut the potatoes lengthwise into slices 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick. Then cut each slice lengthwise into strips 3/8 inch (1 cm) wide. Rinse the potatoes in three changes of cold water. Place in a bowl filled with ice water and let stand for 5 minutes to remove excess starch.

Meanwhile, pour oil to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm) into a deep-fat fryer with a basket or into a deep, heavy pan. Heat to 325°F (165°C), checking the temperature on a built-in thermostat or a deep-fat frying thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, drop in a piece of potato; the oil should immediately begin to foam along its edges.

While the oil is heating, line platters or trays with paper towels. Drain the potatoes and thoroughly dry them with kitchen towels. (Wet potatoes may stick together and will cause the oil to splatter.) If using a fryer, briefly immerse the basket in the hot oil to prevent the potatoes from sticking to it once they are added. Remove the basket from the oil, place 2 handfuls of the potatoes in the basket and lower into the oil. Alternatively, carefully lower them in the pan of oil using a skimmer or tongs. The oil will expand and cover the potatoes. Do not add too many potatoes at one time or they will not cook evenly. Fry until the potatoes are just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the basket and set it over a bowl to drain, then transfer the French fries to paper towel-lined trays or platters for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. If removing with a skimmer or tongs, place the French fries directly on lined trays.

Just before serving, line additional trays or platters with paper towels. Reheat the oil to 375°F (190°C) and fry the potatoes again in batches until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove the basket and set it over a bowl to drain, then turn the French fries out onto the lined trays. Or remove with a skimmer, draining well over the pan, and transfer to lined trays.

Place in a serving bowl or basket, season with salt and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Potatoes, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Time-Life Books, 1993).