Belgium // Fries // Frites

Can we all just take a moment to acknowledge how stellar Belgium’s street food game is?

I mean, we started with waffles that will rock your breakfast, snack, and dessert world in one fell swoop, and now we’re moving on to fries.  With homemade ketchup, of course. 

So here’s a lesson in efficiency.  In winter’s chill, Belgium’s ice cream trucks and stands turn into fry joints that serve out hot, hearty fries wrapped in parchment and with different dipping sauces.  Brilliance, right?  We can all get fat and happy while learning valuable life lessons from the people of Belgium on making the most of what you have.

When I’ve made fries in the past, they’ve left me cold.  Not utterly repulsed, just a bit “meh,” and thinking they’re not really worth the fried bad-for-you-ness. I think it was a commitment issue—I was afraid to make the oil too hot, afraid to use too much.  But we’ve moved on, the fries and I, and the relationship is stellar now.

That’s the secret to making these different than your usual anemic, soggy homemade fries.  Use lots of oil so that the whole fry is cooking simultaneously, and make it HOT so that the potatoes cookfast and don’t have time to absorb much of the oil they’re cooking in.  Give them the consideration of a double fry, and respect the golden bite on the outside that gives way to tender, soft center.  It takes patience to get this much oil heated, sensitivity to work with hot fats, and respect to play the long game and wait for the second frying, but if you’re willing to put the extra time into your fries you won’t be able to help but love them.  And it’s worth it. 

So, so worth it.

Belgian Frites
Serves 3-4
Active Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours or more, depending on how long you let fries refrigerate.

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 7-8 cups of frying oil (canola, vegetable or coconut.  You can also use duck fat, but I’ve never found a source so haven’t tried it.)
  • Sea salt

Peel the potatoes and cut into generous ¼” batons. Set a wire cooling rack on a metal baking sheet and set aside.  In a 3 quart pot, heat at least 3 inches of oil to 325 degrees, using a fry thermometer to monitor temperature.  Carefully put about 1/3 of the potato batons into the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until they are pale yellow and beginning to soften.  Remove with a slotted metal spoon, and place on the wire cooling rack.   Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 

About 20 minutes before serving heat oil again, this time to 425 degrees.  Place 1/3 of the cold fries in the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fries are golden brown on the outside. After removing from the oil, place on a paper towel to absorb extra oil. Repeat the second fry with the rest of the potatoes, making sure that the oil returns to 425 degrees between each batch.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Serve hot with ketchup or aioli sauce.

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