I had heard of this method of starting your french fries in cold oil before but had never tried it myself until this weekend. Apparently, this is how French chefs like Jöel Robuchon, to whom this method is widely credited, make fries at home for their families. Knowing this, I thought to myself, "It has to be good!" I can tell you from experience that it is. The kicker is that it is so easy...dangerously easy.
The theory behind this method is that the potatoes poach as the oil heats up cooking the potato all the way through and then crisping them when the oil comes up to 325 to 350 degrees. When they grab the desired amount of browning, all you do is retrieve them from the oil.
The only tricky part is keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pot without breaking them. There is little chance that you'll burn them -- and no chance that they'll be frozen in the middle. What you end up with is a light, airy, crispy French fry that is creamy in the center. It's so good!
We used these to make our version of the Canadian dish poutine, but they are equally good as a side dish or topped with kimchi and cheddar.
Perfect Cold-Oil French Fries at Home
2 medium russet potatoes
1 quart canola oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
sea salt, cane sugar, and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks and place into a large soup pot. Add enough oil to just cover. Turn the heat on medium high. After about 15 minutes, the oil with begin to lightly boil. Use a metal spatula and an abundance of caution to dislodge any potatoes that may be stuck to the bottom. In another 15 minutes or so, the fries will be light brown and crispy. Remove them from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Immediately add a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of cracked black pepper. (Makes 4 servings.)