French Fry Situation 1

You have very little time, 45 minutes or so.

Method

In this scenario, you start the potatoes in cold oil. This method is perfectly fine and can give you crisp, fluffy fries. The drawback here is that they cook a little less evenly than the other versions, and they tend to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Cut your fries as desired, ideally into ¼-inch/6-millimeter matchsticks. (If you have a Japanese mandoline, such as a Benriner, use it. I encourage you to make the small investment in this invaluable tool, especially if you make fries often. Cut the potatoes on the thickest setting, which is about ¼ inch/6 millimeters. Grip the potato with a sturdy towel so you don’t worry about turning your thumb into a fry, then stack half of the slices and cut the fries that same width. Then do the other stack. I reserve the oddly shaped edges for mashed or scalloped potatoes.)

Fill a large Dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil; you’ll need 2 to 3 quarts/2 to 3 liters. Add the fries and put the pot over high heat. Stir the fries regularly as the oil heats to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Once it’s hot and bubbling, let the fries cook until they’re golden brown, stirring frequently so they don’t stick to the bottom. The moisture leaving the potatoes will keep the oil temperature low for most of the cooking. As soon as the temperature begins to rise above 250°F/121°C, they cook very quickly. It will take about 40 minutes total, from the time you put them in the oil until they’re nice and crisp.

Use a skimmer to transfer the fries to a wide bowl lined with paper towels. Shake them in the bowl while seasoning them with kosher salt. Serve immediately.