Instructables

Fabulous, Crispy Half-Baked French Fries

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French Fries are greasy enough frying them just once... let alone frying them twice. 8-/

By half-baking the potato(es) in advance, you can enjoy superior french fries that are fabulous-crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  

Half-baked Fries are simple to make and they're much healthier than traditional French Fries. They crisp up beautifully in just a matter of 2-3 minutes instead of soaking up all that greasy, fattening oil.  They actually taste like real potatoes, too!   lol... who knew? ;-)

This is the only technique I use when making french fries. 

Once you try it, I think you'll be a convert, too!

All you need is: 
  • A large, 12-14 oz. unpeeled Russet Potato- scrubbed, rinsed and patted dry. (The yield is 2 servings)
  • Clean, unused oil with a high smoke point.* Canola, safflower, sunflower or peanut oils are the best choices.
  • A Saucepan that's at least 5-6" deep. 
  • Miscellaneous: A microwave, aluminum foil and metal tongs, paper towels... and a sharp, thin knife.
To half-bake: (literally), just pierce the potato a few times with a fork. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Turn the potato over and microwave another 3-4 minutes. Remove the potato from the microwave and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil where it will continue to cook for a bit. Put the hot, wrapped potato in the refrigerator and let it chill for several hours or overnight. Cold potatoes hold their shape better and are easier to slice.

Slice the potato in half (horizontally) with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. Slice the potato half into 1/2" slabs. Lay each slab on it'a side and slice it into 1/2" sticks/strips. If the knife starts to grab and tear the potato skin, wipe the blade clean with a paper towel and continue slicing.

To fry: Heat 2" of oil in the deep saucepan over medium-high to high heat until it's just below the smoking point. Depending on your stovetop, this might take several minutes, but keep a close eye on it. Grease fires are dangerous!!!**

Test the oil temperature by breaking off a piece of potato strip and gently dropping it in the oil. If it boils up to the top immediately, the oil is ready to fry in. If not, continue to heat until it's ready. 

Gingerly add the potato strips to the hot oil and stir gently with the metals tongs.

Don't overcrowd the saucepan and don't reduce the heat.  If the oil threatens to boil over, that means you didn't use a deep enough pan. Just carefully raise the pan off the burner until the boiling subsides a little and you'll be in great shape!

The fries will turn golden brown within 2 minutes. Continue to stir gently until the color appeals to you. 

Remove the fries to drain on some paper towels. Salt the fries immediately, then begin frying your second batch.

To eat: Open mouth, insert french fry, chew and swallow! ;-) If you're a Fry-dipper, you just might be interested in my recipe for Spicy Fry Sauce , so check it out.

Enjoy!

*Previously-used oil tends to be contaminated and will produce less-crispy results.
** Always keep a metal (NOT glass) lid handy when frying with hot oil. In the event of a grease fire, DO NOT attempt to move the pan. DO NOT USE WATER. Turn the heat off and cover the pan with the metal  lid. Baking soda can also be used to smother a small grease fire. Click here for more information.
good idea!
fishbait31 year ago
You can get the spider in any Asian food store in your area.About $4.00 to $5.00
bajablue (author)  fishbait31 year ago
Thanks, fishbait3!
londobali1 year ago
bajablue, i'm your latest fan!
Thank you for sharing!

when i deep-fry, i use the metal spider (never knew they call them that), and to pick up the last bits i use a bamboo tong..
the bamboo tong was made for a safe use on non-stick pans, but it's also great for deep frying since it barely transfer heat up..

waiting eagerly for your next i'ble.. :)
Ok, so I've made something like this before and I totally admire your idea here. Any tips on 1) what oil is best to use and 2) how to do this without spilling oil? I don't want to get my kitchen messy, and I don't get to make these often solely because of that. So how can I do this without getting oil everywhere? I love french fries too much haha :)
bajablue (author)  thomasthetankengine2 years ago
#1- Use Canola Oil. It has a high smoke point and it's inexpensive.

# 2- Use a deep  6+ inch saucepan to fry in. The deeper. the better. Since you're only frying in 2" of oil, this will prevent oil from spattering all over your stovetop and making a mess. You'll still have a small amount of residue clean-up, but not a lot.

When you're removing the french fries, lift them with the metal tongs and hold them above the oil for several seconds, allowing any excess oil to drip back into the saucepan. Hold the plate directly next to the pan when removing the fries. This will prevent oil from dripping where it's not supposed to drip. ;-)

Hope this helps... and thanks for your comment.
Something else you could use to remove them from the oil - a metal spider. It's kind of like a sieve, but usually wider holes and with a larger, flatter face. It's GREAT for fishing things out of hot oil or even boiling water (I use it when making my soft pretzels as well).
bajablue (author)  Fun2Hold2 years ago
I've never heard this utensil called a spider, but that sure makes sense! Come to think of it, I haven't seen one of these for a very long time.

No doubt it would be superior to tongs. Thank you for sharing!
spider.jpg
That is so awesome! It can't be too expensive...I will probably buy it depending on how much extra cash I have after I buy my iPad 3, but it can't be that expensive...I will definitely get some ebooks on my iPad, preferably cooking ones with some awesome recipes! Thanks a ton.
haha, yeah, they aren't too expensive. You can probably find them if you hit a few garage/yard sales. They are fantastic though.

I should give credit (which I forgot to do earlier) - I got the idea for this from Alton Brown of Good Eats (sadly no longer making new shows - but one of the best shows to ever air on Food Network!!!).
bajablue (author)  Fun2Hold1 year ago
I love Alton Brown. :-)
I use the spider all the time, and have both the woven version (like in the picture), and a stainless steel, concentric circle type. Bought them both in Chinatown in Winnipeg. $4.75 each on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/6-diameter-Bamboo-Skimmer-Strainer/dp/B00012F3U4)

They're great for fries (fried twice like Bonz, except I cook at 250F and 375F, respectively), for chicken wings and fingers, etc. Strong, cheap, allow the food to drain well, and long enough that I don't burn my fingers in the hot oil!
bajablue (author)  Bray581 year ago
You've convinced me, Bray... I'm buying one!

Thanks!
Thanks! :)) great tips. I might just make them now....ill have to check and make sure i have canola oil. Also, should I reuse the oil when I'm done? I feel like its a waste to use 2" and throw it out.
bajablue (author)  thomasthetankengine2 years ago
Yes... you can and should reuse the oil to fry other foods.  Here's why:

All foods will flavor/compromise the oil they were fried in... but a vegetable is considered "light". It doesn't affect the oil to a measurable degree.

You can reuse this oil to fry more french fries and other veggies.

You an also reuse it to fry chicken, but once the oil has been used to fry chicken (or any meat) it's considered "heavy" and not suitable to fry veggies anymore.



dirtymac2 years ago
These look great and anything that manages to keep grease from splattering all over the kitchen is a great idea.

I did want to point out something I heard from the folks at America's Test Kitchen. They were on Fresh Air a while back and they tested cooking French Fries starting with cold oil and they found them to have less fat than normal twice-baked fries. Food for thought.
bajablue (author)  dirtymac2 years ago
That's interesting, dirtymac, but I'm not sure I'm understanding your post correctly.

I'd be really interested in their method because I'm all for "less grease" where french fries are concerned.

I'll try a google search with the info you've shared and see what I can come up with.

In the meantime, thank you for your comment!
Here's a link to the text and Audio. I think they also have it in a book they published last year. Basically, they put the fries into cold oil and cook them as the oil is brought up to the proper temperature. Apparently, the potatoes don't absorb nearly as much oil when the oil is cold.

http://www.wbur.org/npr/143259669/tried-and-true-tricks-from-americas-test-kitchen
bajablue (author)  dirtymac2 years ago
What a great link with some fascinating information!

What I'd like to point out is that the folks at Test Kitchen compared cold oil frying to twice-fried french fries for oil saturation.

They didn't test cold oil frying against this method for half-baked french fries.
Of course. I just thought it was another method to consider when thinking about less oil. I'd actually love to see the cold oil version compared to this one. I can't wait to try your method, but since I'm not the cook in the house, I'll have some convincing to do first.
Bonz2 years ago
That's why I fry my fries twice. First,: at 250F They don't soak up grease, because the steam escaping from the fries makes a layer of steam bubbles, keeping the oil physically away from the fry.

This is the state in which you buy frozen fries: partially cooked but not browned.

After you have pre-cooked all the fries, remove and drain them of any oil. Crank up the fryer to 350 F and brown them quickly.

bajablue (author)  Bonz2 years ago
If you like frying them twice, that's certainly your prerogative. To each his own. ;-)
Bonz bajablue2 years ago
Absolutely! And the texture will be somewhat different. It all depends on what tools you have available, and what you want as a product.

I cooked white rice for decades, each grain separate and distinct. Then I had to cook some Oriental meals .... and they want their short grain rice just the right degree of "sticky".

Cook what you and/or your customers like, not what I or any cookbook says is "right:"
GASSYPOOTS2 years ago
boil them in grease with peppercorn :D
canucksgirl2 years ago
That's a great sounding method. I will have to try that. ;)
bajablue (author)  canucksgirl2 years ago
You'll love it... pinkie-swear!!! ;-D
Well if you pinkie-swear, it must be good. ;)
bajablue (author)  canucksgirl2 years ago
;-D
sunshiine2 years ago
I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing!
Sunshiine
bajablue (author)  sunshiine2 years ago
The next time you bake potatoes, just cook a couple more and refrigerate them. Easy peasy!
Thanks for sharing bajablue!