French Fries or Belgian Fries ?
Admittedly, the fries were called “French Fries” in the USA (versus chips in UK) because American soldiers tasted them for the first time after the first World War in north of France and Belgian, where French language was also spoken. If the origin of the first fried potato is still disputed between France and Belgian around the 17th century, the fries definitely belong to the Belgian culture nowadays where you can even find museum de la Frite!
The secret of double cooking
To achieve perfect fries, there is one key that every Belgian person knows. The potato has to be first plunged into an oil heated to 140°C for 5 minutes. When it turns white (which means the potato is cooked), it will go into another warmer oil (180°C). It’s the only way to obtain fries that are fluffy inside, golden, light and crispy outside.
Baraque à frites
In Belgian and in the North of France, some street food shops, generally an independent container or food-truck, only focus on homemade fries. Called “Baraque à frites” (“shanty of fries”), they sell golden and crispy fries dressed in a paper cone alongside 20 different sauces.
- 5-6 big floury potatoes
- neutral vegetable oil
- A sharp knife
- A clean kitchen towel or paper towel
- 2 pots with high rims
- One oil thermometer (optional but easier)
HOW TO COOK PERFECT FRENCH FRIES
Begin with peeling the potatoes and cut them to give them a shape of fries. You can either be rough and create imperfect shaped French fries (they are as delicious) or cut first your potato in parallelepiped to give it squared angles and thus have rectangular fries. Check here the perfect and easiest way to cut a potato into fries.
Put some oil in your two pots and let them warm for 5 to 10 minutes, one on medium heat, the other on higher heat. If you have an oil thermometer, use it to be precise : the first pot should be warmed to 130-150°C, while the other should be heated to approx. 180°C. Be very cautious with warm oil, the high rims and an apron are necessary to protect you from splashes of oil. Using a kitchen towel, dry well all of your fries : taking out the starch will allow your fries to become crustier.
Put cautiously your fries in the first low temperature oil, stir a little to avoid that the fries stick together. Let them cook until they are blanched (they turn white and got little bubble on the surface). To be really sure, take one out, dry it well, and taste. It has to be almost cooked inside.
When they are ready, transfer them all in the warmer oil. The process of getting a golden color should be quite quick, 1 to 3 mn, if your oil is warm enough. Take them out when they have the desired color, put them in a basket or on a tray covered with paper towel to soak up the exceeding grease, spread fine salt and eat it while it’s hot!