What’s a hamburger without French fries? This is no doubt a question Joe Tedesco would ask anyone who tried to serve the popular sandwich without it’s equally famous side. It’s also a question Joe did not have to ask Charlie Rollins and Graham Silver when he attended their party. The pair knew enough about their unofficial guest of honor to know plenty of fries had better be on the menu if hamburgers were anywhere nearby. They went one better and offered seasoned fries unlike anything Joe had ever tasted.
The following recipe is the one I came up with for the above-mentioned scene. Even though Joe never had the chance to try the delicious fries, I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as my family did.
Seasoned French Fries
Eight large russet potatoes
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 ½ t garlic powder
1 ½ t onion powder
1 ½ t ground cayenne pepper
1 ½ t sea salt
1 ½ t black pepper (I used a coarse grind)
1 ½ t paprika
Peanut oil for frying
¾ c water, more as needed
Combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and paprika with a whisk, mixing well. Set aside.
Wash and peel the potatoes. Place whole peeled potatoes in a bowl of salted cold water to keep them from turning gray. Remove one potato at a time and cut it in half lengthwise. Lay the flat side down, and cut the potato in half horizontally so you end up with a top half directly over a bottom half. Keep the halves together and cut them into ¼ inch strips. Do the same with the other half of the potato. Proceed in this fashion until all the potatoes have been cut into strips. Return the cut pieces of potato to the cold water while working on whole potatoes. Once all the potatoes have been cut into strips, drain them in a colander and rinse the cut potatoes with fresh cold water to remove excess starch. Pat the cut potatoes dry with a paper towel.
I used a heavy pot on the stove to heat my peanut oil and a candy thermometer to maintain exact heat. Heat the peanut oil to 350° F.
Add the ¾ c of water to the seasoned flour and whisk. Add more water in ¼ c increments and whisk until you have a thin batter. Place two large handfuls of potato slices in the batter and toss to cover. Excess batter will drop off when transferring the potatoes, but don’t shake off so much that your potatoes are thinly battered. Carefully place the battered potato slices in the hot peanut oil a few at a time until the surface of the oil is covered. An Asian strainer with handle is perfect for the task.
The temperature of the oil will drop a little with the addition of the cold potatoes. Maintaining 350° F will result in well-cooked, crispy fries. You may need to separate the fries as they cook to prevent sticking. When the batter turns a deep gold (approximately 10 – 12 minutes), the fries are finished cooking. Use the Asian strainer to remove the potatoes from the oil and drain them in a large bowl lined with paper towels. It is most important that the peanut oil returns to 350° before adding another batch of battered potatoes. When it does, proceed with the frying process until all the potato slices are cooked.
You may salt to taste if needed. The flavor of the seasoned batter becomes more evident once the fries have cooled to a temperature at which one can eat them without burning fingers or mouth.