French fries are called fries for a reason. Because they are meant to be fried. Not baked.
So, when you want to know how to fry frozen French fries to perfection in a pan there are two very distinct ways that this can be done.
Simply put, they can be fried in either hot or cold oil, either frozen or thawed.
Any method chosen, performed correctly, will produce perfectly golden fried French fries.
Preparation of Frozen French Fries: 10 minutes
When you have a hankering for tasty French fries fried to perfection you need to make sure that the French fries are prepared correctly.
Since frozen French fries will be used instead of fresh potatoes the starch value will be much less.
If you will be frying French fries from a frozen state, there is little to no preparation involved.
It is when you are frying French fries from a thawed state that there needs to be a bit more attention to detail.
When thawing the French fries from a frozen state, first, place the number of French fries you are requiring on a paper towel to absorb the moisture that will be released during the thawing-out process.
Pat the top and bottom of the French fries to remove as much moisture as possible.
Frying Frozen French Fries in Cold Oil
Many people opt into using cold oil to avoid the spattering of hot oil from burning their hands or arms.
With this method, you simply set your burner on medium heat and then place the frozen French fries in the frying pan, in a single layer.
Once they are in the pan you pour a layer of cold oil over the fries until they are covered.
Then you simply let the burner heat up the grease to cook the French fries. It generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes, per batch.
However, when the oil comes to a rolling boil you can remove your French fries because they are done!
Once you remove the fries from the grease it is best practice to lay them out on a layer of paper towel or even brown paper lunch sacks.
This is the ideal way to absorb the grease from the French fries.
Immediately season the fries with salt and pepper. This is the best time to add any type of seasoning that you want.
Just make sure you do it when they are hot out of the grease so that the seasoning sticks to the fries.
The most popular answer when asked why people use cold oil; the fact that there is no babysitting involved.
The cook does not have to stand in the kitchen babysitting the stove. This allows them to prep other food items for the meal with the assurance that nothing will burn.
Frying Frozen French Fries in Hot Oil
When using the hot oil method, you are going to want to make sure you have either peanut or vegetable oil because those withstand high heat better than any other oil.
The hot oil process is quite like the cold oil process. By using a pan with a heavy bottom, heat the peanut or vegetable oil to 350°.
Make sure that you check the temperature with a thermometer before you put any frozen French fries in the oil.
Once the oil reaches 350° you can add one layer of frozen French fries for a maximum of three minutes of cooking time.
Do not crowd the French fries in the oil. This ensures that they will cook uniformly.
Remove the French fries after the three-minute cooking and place them on paper towels or onto brown paper lunch sacks, to remove the excess oil.
At this point, your fries are far from done. By looking at them you will see that they are still pale and quite flimsy.
Raise the temperature of your oil to 400° and check it again with the thermometer. Once the temperature reaches 400° add the fries for a second frying time.
Watch your French fries very closely and when they start to turn golden brown, immediately pull them from the oil.
Place them on new paper towels to absorb the oil again. This second cooking time will be no more than two to three minutes.
Make sure to dust your fries with salt and pepper immediately after taking them out of grease for the second time.
Again, this is the ideal opportunity to add any secondary seasoning you may want. Many people opt into adding powdered cheese or even some seasoned salt.
Pros and Cons of Each Method
While attempting the cold oil method the major con would be the fact that it takes longer to cook them. In total, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
That does not include the prep time. So, you are looking at about a 30-minute total time from beginning to end.
By using the hot oil method to fry the perfect French fry the major pro would be less cooking time which in turn means you can make them for larger gatherings.
However, a major con would be the likelihood of being burned by spattered grease. Those burns are not something that can be quickly forgotten!
Any frozen French fry can be fried to perfection if the chef has patience and imagination for seasonings.
However, as with anything in life, there is always one method that works better than another. Cooking is certainly no different.
Having a minimal amount of moisture in a frozen French fry is crucial when the cooking method will be frying. That moisture is going to come out in the oil, which will cause the oil to spatter.
When water meets oil there is more likelihood of the steam being pushed through the oil at high rates, which in turn will cause spattering and could easily cause burns.
As with anything, use caution.
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