I think I can speak for everyone when I say French fries are probably Americans' favorite guilty pleasure. So much so that Americans dared to rename them Freedom fries when France objected to the war. Interestingly there is nothing French about them. As history goes, potatoes were first brought to Spain via the New World expeditions. Fried potatoes became popular during the 17th century in the Spanish Netherlands, present day Belgium. When there were no fish to fry, the poorer citizens fried potatoes. Sometime during World War I, an American or British soldier eating fried potatoes erroneously named them French fries since French was the official language of Belgium. Another theory suggests that the culinary term for slicing into thin strips, "to French," was applied to fried potatoes and thus the name.
However the story goes, fried potatoes or pommes frites have achieved worldwide acclaim. American fast food chains accepted them as their own and their popularity soared. Once you bite into a golden crisp fry with a pure white fluffy interior, you just can't stop at one. They're addictive and comforting. For me there's nothing better than making my own fries at home. No frozen bags here. And no jarred mayo either. I serve fries in the European style with creamy yellow homemade mayonnaise. The stuff can be whipped together in less than five minutes even when beaten by hand. So why not try making homemade fries with mayonnaise, is there anything better?
Pommes Frites with Mayonnaise
Note: The best French fries are always fried twice, the first frying cooks the inside whereas the second crisps the outside.
4 russet potatoes
Wash and scrub potatoes, especially if leaving skin on. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch thick sticks using a sharp knife or mandoline. Transfer to a bowl with cold water.
Heat an electric skillet or sauté pan with an inch of oil to 325 degrees F. Check temperature with a candy thermometer.
Drain potatoes and pat with paper towels. Fry in batches until cooked through yet still pale, about 3 minutes. Transfer to tray lined with paper towels.
Raise temperature of oil to 375 degrees F. Fry potatoes in batches until golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to another tray lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve in a parchment paper cone set into a cup. Yield: 2 servings.
Note: Mayonnaise can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure to cover with plastic wrap directly on top of mayonnaise to prevent skin from forming.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup olive or canola oil (or a combination)
Warm a large stainless steel bowl with hot water and dry thoroughly. Nestle the bowl into a heavy earthenware bowl lined with a kitchen towel to keep it from moving. Add egg yolk and beat until frothy. Add vinegar, salt, and mustard; beat until combined. Slowly drizzle in oil with one hand while whisking vigorously with the other hand. Switch hands if necessary, but do not stop whisking until a thick emulsion has formed. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.