I have to be honest, my first thought was to write this about the frankfurter, for reasons I will explain in about two weeks (how is that for a hint). However, as most people talk about them as hot dogs (H) that is when I will return to the all-American food – the hot dog. For this week, it is one of its all-American counterparts – the French fry. I am one of those people in the world who is not a fan of fast food French fries. I have tried to like them, but years ago, I had amazing French fries and fast food fries have never measured up since then. I am not a fan of frozen fries either. Over the years, I have tried to see if I like them yet, but I don’t. The other day, a friend stared at because I talked about throwing them away.
I used to think making French fries was easy, but then I tried to make them to get them to the perfect state that I have had in some amazing restaurants. I have come to realize that making the perfect fry, like anything else, requires practice. Bobby Flay, for example, spent years perfecting the process for making the perfect fries. In his book Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes he offers a few tips for mastering the technique for the perfect French fry. It all starts with selecting the right potato; russets and baking potatoes are the best. Then you have to let them soak for eight hours, or at least for an hour, as this removes the starch, which keeps the potatoes from sticking together. It also eliminates the sugars, which prevent them from achieving the maximum crispiness.
Then there is the selection of the oil. Flay suggests that the best oil is peanut oil. It is best for deep-frying. It has a high smoking point a the taste is mild enough that it does not take away from or over power the taste of the potato in your fries; you taste the potatoey goodness, not the oil.
I have put off making fries at home for years because I do not have a countertop deep fryer, but Flay suggests you can use a heavy bottomed pot, a wire mesh strainer, a deep fry thermometer, and a roll of paper towels. The secret is to cook them twice and in small batches. The first time is at a lower temperature (325 degrees) which cooks the inside of the potato. After draining them, you cook them in small batches a second time at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes to give them the perfect crispiness. It is important to season them as soon as you have drained them so that the soak in the flavor of the seasonings with which you are gently tossing them.
For me, creating the perfect fry and technique is like a spiritual journey. It is something we are constantly working on. There are some things we will discover in our journey that are more appropriate then others. We are looking for the “russet or baking potatoes” things, which will enable us to continue to grow and evolve in our journey. If we start with the wrong basics, we will not be able to evolve to our fullest potential. We need to take some time to soak ourselves, to remove those things, which may prevent us from achieving our maximum crispiness. Some do this through baptism, mikvahs, or soaking out the agreements, which are not allowing us to attain clarity of vision about our lives and our purpose. We need to find the perfect oil in which we should “fry” ourselves. What “oil” will enable you to transform, but still maintain your “potatoey goodness”?
Finally, we need to allow ourselves to be “fried” multiple times. Some spiritual experiences will transform us or grow in one way, but they do not enable us to achieve our “maximum crispiness.” Unlike potatoes, sometimes we need more then two “frys” in our lives. However, each of those “deep fryer” experiences will help us evolve and grow in our journey. May we all be blessed with the perfect potatoes, oil, fryer, and plenty of paper towels for our journey. Oh yeah, don’t forget to season yourself.