Art of the French Fry

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1. THE POTATO: Start with good starchy ones, such as Idahos (also known as russets). For classic fries, peel the potatoes just before slicing, then place in water to cover. Christopher Hirsheimer
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2. THE OIL: We like the clean, faintly nutty flavor of peanut oil for our fries, but olive oil and other vegetable oils work well, too¿as do lard and rendered beef fat, if you (or your arteries) dare. Christopher Hirsheimer
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3. THE KNIFE: Using a sharp chef’s knife, shape peeled potatoes into blocks. To hand-cut fries, slice the potatoes evenly lengthwise, then cut slices into fry-shaped pieces. If the potato sticks to the knife as you cut, wipe the blade or run it under water. Christopher Hirsheimer
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4. THE MANDOLINE: Another way of making fries is to cut the trimmed potatoes on a mandoline, using the wide, serrated blade, which is perfect for this task. Christopher Hirsheimer
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5. THE SOAK: To keep cut potatoes from turning brown, place them in a nonreactive bowl and cover with water. For crispier fries, refrigerate soaking potatoes for two hours. Christopher Hirsheimer
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6. THE BLOT: Before frying, dry potatoes thoroughly by blotting them with paper towels. Wet potatoes splatter and cook unevenly. Christopher Hirsheimer
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7. THE PLUNGE: Fries should be fried twice, once to cook, once to crisp. Don’t waste your money on special fryers; the only equipment you need is a heavy pot and a thermometer. Precise temperatures are vital; make sure the oil is at 325¿ for the first fry. Christopher Hirsheimer
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8. THE COOLDOWN: After the first fry, drain potatoes on paper towels and let them cool completely. At this point, they can be covered and refrigerated for later finishing. Christopher Hirsheimer
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9. THE SECOND PLUNGE: The second fry, at 375¿, crisps the potatoes. Again, check oil temperature with a thermometer. Christopher Hirsheimer
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10. THE RESULTS: Remove fries from oil with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve. Classic fries, unlike potato chips, taste best when eaten immediately, while they’re still hot and crisp. Christopher Hirsheimer