Popular on Food52
betteirene April 24, 2010
Twenty-five years ago, when my six sons were younger, I took advantage of every opportunity to feed them cheaply but well. Even though I had a huge garden and grew our own potatoes and sweet potatoes, I couldn't pass up a deal at a local chain grocery that offered a 50-pound bag of potatoes for $3. I bought two bags, one to eat fresh and one to put up. A couple of days later when I finally got around to slicing and dicing them, I found that they weren't the tail end of the last season's crop but the very first of that season's crop. They were beautiful Idaho russets, completely unblemished, and so crisp and crunchy and hard that my hands got sore from the knifework. I had my four biggest pots full of potatoes and boiling water on the stove, both sinks full of ice water to shock the blanched french fries and cubes, the kitchen table covered with an old tablecloth with drying fries, and every flat surface I owned--cookie sheets, cooling racks, casserole dishes, cutting boards--single-layered with potatoes in the kitchen freezer and the basement chest freezer, waiting for them to get hard enough to put into plastic storage bags. I still boil my french fries first, but am very, very glad I no longer have to prepare 50 pounds at a time. That knock-about technique of exposing more of the potato's surface area to the oil--pure science. As a bona fide kitchen geek, I appreciate your passing along that tip. And the pancetta trick, too, is also science, not just a flavoring technique. Have you ever noticed that the first batch of anything deep-fried takes forever to brown? Never-used oil has a harder time penetrating the moisture barrier of whatever is being deep-fried; by cooking the pancetta, you're breaking in the oil, which helps immensely to cook the potato all the way through and to color it up. I've always used 3/4 fresh oil to 1/4 previously used oil--but I'm gonna try the pancetta trick soon. Sorry to ramble.
Rhonda35 April 26, 2010
SIX sons??! Wow, I can barely deal with one. Good for you and thanks so much for sharing this story. I loved my time in the UK (4 years) and I was so happy to learn that "knock-about" technique for making crispy potatoes.
Amanda H. May 30, 2010
Thanks so much for your post -- really interesting about your oil ratio. Also love your economy in the kitchen!
lastnightsdinner April 23, 2010
I've done double-cooked (in duck fat) fries, but never "thrice-cooked". We always have great local lard on hand, so I am definitely going to have to try this method. Thanks for sharing it!
It's pretty interesting (and easier if spread out over two days). I think using older potatoes would also help, but I didn't have a chance to try this out because wanted to post it this week. Good luck! (Oh, and how am I not surprised that you keep local lard on hand!)
gluttonforlife April 23, 2010
I'm writing from my room at the Ace to tell you that you're my favorite food bloodhound!! I'm off to order some fries and ginger beer...
mariaraynal April 23, 2010
Yet another creative recipe -- the pancetta is a brilliant technique. Great photo, too.
See what other Food52 readers are saying.