COLD OIL French Fries & Potato Chips

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♫ Basking in sunshine ☼, creating new dishes... growing zucchini and swimming with fishes. Rattle...

Intro: COLD OIL French Fries & Potato Chips

Hot, crispy homemade french fries and potato chips make a healthy comeback with the unorthodox method of cold frying.   

Here are 4 excellent reasons why you should stop everything you're doing and try this... right now! 

1. The preparation couldn't get any easier or faster. (less than 15 minutes for fries!)  
2. Your stove top remains virtually grease-free because there's no explosive flash-spatter
3. Cold frying produces healthier french fries with less fat than conventional fries.  
4. Best of all:  These fries (and chips) taste absolutely  f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c.  

They're so delicious and soeasy, I've completely abandoned traditional hot-oil frying... for french fries, anyway. ;-) 

Are you skeptical?  The proof is in the pudding potato. ;-)  I want to will make a believer out of you!

Let's get started!




Step 1: Ingredients and Tools:

You'll need potatoes, oil and salt. ;-)

Potato Types: 
 
Small (6-8 oz) Russet potatoes: Young "bakers" have less starch than their mature jumbo   siblings. Less starch = crispier french fries.  Make sure your potatoes are fresh and firm.  Save the large tubers for smashed or baked taters. ;-)

• Yukon Gold potatoes: They're reported to be low in starch.  I haven't bothered to try them because Russets are delicious, less expensive and they're always available. 

Bottom line: Feel free to experiment.  I tend to think White or Red rose potatoes are too high in starch to make a good french fry, but that's just speculation.  Maybe you have a tuber-exotica in your pantry?  Why not try it?  

Top Secret confession: Don't tell jessyratfink, but I did make an earnest effort to improve her Sweet Potato Fries using the cold-fry method.  The sweet potato gods weren't impressed with the results and neither was I.  When I say "Jessy's recipe ain't broke", I speak from first-hand experience. ;-)

Oil Types:
 
• Vegetable Oil- Excellent
• Canola Oil- Very Good

The beauty of cold-frying is that the oil never reaches the smoking-point before the potatoes are finished cooking.  While I'm sure higher quality oils (such as peanut) would produce great results, I haven't tried them.  I also haven't tried cold frying with Olive or Coconut oil, but I wouldn't hesitate to experiment with them.  Please give me the 411 if you do.  I'd love to hear your results!

Tools:

• A deep, heavy saucepan or dutch oven.  Flimsy aluminum or cheap stainless steel pans are not recommended.  They just don't hold the heat well. (I tried an aluminum pan once and the results were awful!)  

It's important to choose a saucepan deep enough to allow 2 inches between the top of the oil and the rim of the saucepan.

I use a 3 qt T-Fal saucepan.  It has enough room to cold fry 2 potatoes for french fries or potato chips.

Please: DO NOT use a frying pan or skillet for cold-frying.  Shallow pans are NOT safe for large amounts of very hot oil.  

• Tongs, a spider or even a pasta claw
• Paper towels 
 

 

Step 2: Cold Oil French Fries

Zero-hassle prep:

Scrub the potatoes and slice them horizontally into 3/8" sticks. There's no need to pat them dry unless you just can't stop yourself. ;-)

Fry:

Stagger/criss-cross the raw fries in layers as you put them into the heavy saucepan.  Cover completely with oil. 

Put the saucepan on the burner and turn the heat to "high".  When the oil begins to boil (about 5 minutes in) use tongs or a fork to stir the fries. This helps keep them from sticking together.  Let the fries boil in the oil 5 minutes longer and stir them again.   

Continue frying for a few more minutes. The bubbling will subside and the fries will begin to brown. When golden, remove them from the oil onto a layer of paper towels.  Salt and serve devour immediately.

Bon appétit!

P.S. The leftover oil can absolutely be reused. Cool and store it in a container until tomorrow. That's probably when you'll be craving another batch of awesome, easy, delicious homemade french fries! 






Step 3: Cold Oil Potato Chips

Unlike cold oil fries, potato chips do require some advance preparation.  You need to remove as much starch from the chips as possible before frying. Otherwise, they'll stick together while frying and get chewy instead of crispy. :-(

Prep:  

Thinly slice the potato with a mandoline or potato peeler.  Place the raw chips in a large bowl and cover the completely with water.  (The water will turn cloudy right away. That's the starch being released from the spud.)  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, an hour, or even overnight.

When you're ready to fry, put the chips in a colander and rinse briefly under cold-running water. (This helps remove any starch that may have settled between the slices.) Allow to drain for several minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel.  It's fine to have some moisture... you just don't want them dripping-wet.

Fry: 

Since potato chips have more surface area than french fries, you'll need to use more oil.  Put the chips into a heavy saucepan and spread them out a bit.  Add enough oil to the pan so the chips are completely covered, then add at least another inch. 


Put the saucepan on your burner and turn the heat to "high".  

After about 3 minutes, the oil will begin to bubble around the walls of the saucepan. Give the chips a gently stir with a fork.  Wait a few more minutes until the oil reaches a rapid boil and stir again.  Gently stir the chips every few minutes. (You'll be able to feel their texture go from soggy to firm to crisp right through the fork.) 

As the oil bubbles begin to subside the chips will start to lightly brown.  When they're golden, remove them from the oil and place on a layer of paper towels to drain. Salt immediately.

For optimal crispiness, let the chips cool for a few minutes before serving. 
 

Caveat: These chips can go from "almost done" to "over-done" in a span of 20 seconds.  Keep a close eye on them

Step 4: Author's Notes and Credits:

This Instructable was inspired by member dirtymac.  We were discussing the fat-factor on my Instructable Half-baked French Fries.  He referenced and shared an article from America's Test Kitchen about cold-frying. (article here)

Well... I've been cooking since the stone-age... and I'd never even heard of cold-frying!  I was intrigued by (and skeptical of) the entire concept!

At the time, ATK didn't offer a tutorial on the process, so I just started experimenting.  In hindsight, I'm really glad I wasn't influenced jaded by any previously published accounts of cold oil french fries. 

In writing this Instructable, I've since revisited the topic with a recent Google search. There are a few tutorials online now.  I had to giggle when I discovered two very reputable sources (who shall remain nameless: Cook's Illustrated and ATK ;-) unequivocally dismiss Russet potatoes as "too starchy" for cold oil frying.  lol... not! 

This, my Instructable friends, is my favorite part of any story. It's the part where I get to jump up and holler "YES, you CAN!!!" ;-D 

Thanks for stopping by and P.S. Thanks Dirtymac!  My family loves these french fries!!!


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63 Discussions

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jessyratfink

5 years ago on Introduction

I just gave this a go! They're perfect. :D

Soft and fluffy in the middle, slightly sweet, nice and crisp. And it took less than 20 minutes! I also want to try sweet potato fries - did you try coating them in cornstarch and then frying? I've heard that works well!

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bajabluejessyratfink

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

They look YUMMY, Jessy!  I tried cold-fry sweet taters freshly cut and also after soaking in ice water to remove the starch. Neither tasted good. I didn't coat them as you suggested, but that's worth a shot.

I also tried cold-frying Sweet Potato Chips and they were interesting. Soaked 'em in ice water and the slices ruffled up which stopped them from sticking together, anyway.  They shrank by about 50% but tasted pretty good after they cooled. 

Thanks for commenting!

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ssimonsen

5 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the inspiration!
I'm not that into deep frying stuff, but as I saw this instructable and we needed some snacks for a party anyway, I thought why not. Yes that is what I thought.

I used "plain norwegian" potatoes, probably Kerr's Pink, sliced them with a cheese slicer to ~3 mm thickness, directly into a (black) plastic bowl with cold water. I finally added more water to completely fill the bowl, then put the bowl in a 4 C refrigerator for 2 hours (the time I had available). The next time I would try to exchange the water after 1 hour, thinking this would increase the rate of de-starching.

If I understand correctly, a potato is not much more than starch and a small amount of cellular protein. So when soaking, you're basically just thinning the slice. And why thin the potato? In order to get that water trapped within the starch network, out! It takes time to remove the moisture, and when enough water has boiled off, the temperature increases to let the browning reaction of sugars (from broken down starch) with amino acids (from proteins) commence. If the browning reaction goes too fast, you may need to stop at a brown but soggy potato slice. I noticed that the slice started off very nearly crispy (the browner ones were more crispy of course), but upon arrival to the party, no-one were impressed by a limp slice between their fingers.

I'll emphasize right here, with a special paragraph, that a soggy potato, cross my heart, tastes fantastic. Yes I will definitively aim for more crispness next time because it's something that needs to be learned and the texture is more attractive, but it's a refreshing experience to have potato chips with some depth to them, a feeling of eating something substantial, something not SO unhealthy. Maybe I should just make fries...

Another point I noticed is that, depending on the variety of potato, your potato may contain some free sugars, not bound to the resilient starch configuration. These sugars will be off browning before you'd want them to. Best get them out of there. They'll be happier in water.

After 2 hours soaking in water, I rinsed them again in cold water and let them drip off in a colander. In a saucepan I added some leftover rapeseed oil and then a bit more fresh, then carefully lowered a layer of slices so that the oil only just covered them. I didn't have enough oil (or small saucepan) to cover it over with a 1 inch layer. I then heated the pan (7-8 on an induction oven top, where 9 is max) and let the water boil off the potato slices. I think one batch took 5-10 minutes and indeed you need to pay well attention once the browning has started. You need to be perfectly ready to lift out the potatoes once your personal taste dictates that they are done.

Anyone used the starchy rinsewater? You could probably dry it off in an oven and get a small amount of starch powder of out it. Use it in a salad dressing to go with your potato crisps??

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bajabluessimonsen

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I recently read that soaking potatoes is 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar helps remove the excess starch, too. I've also read that the saved starch can be used as a thickener like corn starch, but I haven't tried it yet.

I SO WANT an induction stove top!!! Lucky you!!!!

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LukeL1bajablue

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

I tried that method tonight, but I ended up with soggy potato chips with a vinegar taste. I know some people like that taste with their chips or fries, but I don't care for it much. I suppose there could've been other factors that affected the outcome.

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RonaAppoo

4 years ago on Step 2

It's not rocket science folks, just as u start potatoes in cold water to have them cooked inside out first, the same goes for this recipe. made it came out perfecto!!!

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rshudson82

5 years ago on Step 2

Does the oil not soak into the potatoes while it's heating? I thought in deep frying that the steam pressure inside the food kept the oil from soaking in, but if you start the oil cold, there's no steam.

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bajabluershudson82

Reply 5 years ago on Step 2

Hey there rshudson82!

Here's the transcript from America's Test Kitchen. It explains the process better than I ever could. The only thing I found was that the fires cook up much faster than 25 minutes, as quoted below:

LANCASTER: French fries. French fries, one of the things is to make great French fries you have to twice fry them. And what I mean by that is after you cut the potato into planks or into strips you have to start them in oil basically to get most of the cooking done but not really the browning. And then you have to let them sit out of the oil and then later on you fry them again, and that's to really build up the crust on the French fries, make it nice and fluffy in the center and really, really crusty on the outside.

We wanted to rethink that. This is another one of those classic dishes. There's one way to cook French fries, and we wanted to go back and test this. And this is the cold oil, starting potatoes in cold oil, which everything about that sounds wrong to me. You know, we've been told if the oil temperature isn't hot enough that the tables are actually going to soak up all that oil and you're going to end up with greasy French fries, which by the way, I would still eat. But, you know, there's still French fries at the bottom of it. But this is amazing. As the potatoes come up to temperature, the oil comes up to temperature, the potatoes come up to temperature, they actually will not soak up the oil until they get to a certain point. And once you've heated up the French fries they're pretty darn amazing. They start to cook slowly, they're nice and tender on the outside, and then they build up crust on their own. It completely changed the way in the test kitchen that we think about cooking French fries.

KIMBALL: Well, we actually tested them after we had fried them and they had a third less fat, saturated fat from the oil.

LANCASTER: That right.

KIMBALL: It was actually less oil in the fry. And we did a little science experience with it and we found there were two things going on. One is they can't absorb oil until they lose moisture. So the oil is replacing water...

LANCASTER: Right.

KIMBALL: ...that was in the potato. So you put potatoes in a cold oil there's no transfer of oil to potato. The other thing is that a lot of the oil absorption happens in the cooling down period. So a typical fry, French fries, fried twice, and it cools down the first time oil is getting sucked into it...

LANCASTER: Sucked in.

KIMBALL: ...and then the second time. With our method there's only one cooling down method, period at the end and that means less oil. So you get substantially less oil. And by the way, this idea came from Joel Robuchon, the French Chef. He actually I think was the one who pioneered the cold oil...

LANCASTER: Mm-hmm.

KIMBALL: ...so we need to give him credit. But less fat and it's much easier. It takes what, 25 minutes from start to finish.

LANCASTER: Right.

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eugene_nkl

5 years ago

Nice, thank you, I really appreciate your tutorial:)

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SandraDau

5 years ago on Introduction

Well when I heard of Cold Oil fires I was like What?? But I also had to try it. But they came out great!

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fffinikkk

5 years ago

Tttastyyy!)))