French Fries with Homemade Ketchup
For the ketchup:
- 1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs. fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the French fries:
- 4 large russet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lb. total
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To make the ketchup, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, shallots, sugar, fennel seeds, kosher salt, cloves, dry mustard, black pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (and, during the last 10 minutes of cooking, often). Transfer the ketchup to a small bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 day or up to 3 weeks.
To make the French fries, peel the potatoes and cut each one lengthwise into slices 1/3 inch thick. Cut the slices lengthwise into sticks 1/3 inch thick. Spread out 3 kitchen towels. Scatter the potatoes over the towels and roll them up. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow most of the moisture to be absorbed.
In a deep fryer or large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 325°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in 4 batches, fry the potatoes until just tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Using a large skimmer or the deep fryer's basket, transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels to drain. Between batches, let the oil return to 325°F and use a skimmer to remove any potato bits that remain in the oil. Let the potatoes cool for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours..
Reheat the oil in the fryer to 375°F. Fry the potatoes again in 4 batches until they are a deep golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet lined with fresh paper towels and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, with the ketchup alongside. Serves 6.
Caution: When deep-frying, do not let the oil reach above 375°F. If it reaches 400°F or more, it may burst into flame.