In honor of today's inauguration, I give you . . . french fries.
WHAT? I bet soon-to-be President Obama LOVES french fries. And no, I will not call them freedom fries. That's lame.
So here's the method for making kick-ass french fries suitable for delicious chili cheese fries. Or just shoveling in your mouth plain, because they're so damned good. I originally picked this method up from a cookbook put out by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA if you want to sound like a pro . . . which I'm not) called "Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America." What an original title. It was, in general, a pretty useless cookbook, but I was intrigued by the french fry recipe, because it does not involve throwing cold potatoes in hot oil, thereby sending hissing, burning oil all over the stove and my arms. No, it does not. And Alleluia for that.
Here's what it does involve.
1) Grow your potatoes. Preferably Bake Kings.
OH ALL RIGHT. You can use store potatoes if you HAVE to. Use a baking variety, a.k.a. russet or Idaho potatoes. Plan on about one potato per eater. Unless they're those mutant, freakishly huge potatoes. Then you might be able to get by with half a potato per eater. Unless that eater is me, and then you should plan on one mutant for me, and half for everyone else.
2) Edited to add: Right about here I should have said to peel the potatoes. So, yeah. Do that. Cut into french-fry-shaped pieces. This method works best with thicker fries, like steak fries. And don't ask me how thick those are, because I don't do numbers. Just cut 'em pretty thick.
3) Now here's where it gets weird. Put the cut-up potatoes in a skillet big enough to hold them all with some clearance at the top. Then pour in canola oil right on top to just barely cover. If a little bit of potato is sticking out the top of the oil, that's okay. Stir a little to make sure the oil is under the potatoes and the potatoes are covered by the oil as much as possible.
You will have noted that I have said nothing about heating the oil first. That's because you heat the potatoes and oil together. I KNOW. WEIRD. But I swear on my mother's big toe these will not be greasy and gross. Well, of course they'll be a little greasy, because they're fried potatoes, but not gross. Definitely not gross.
4) NOW turn the burner on to medium. Cook at this temperature for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally so the potatoes don't stick. And for the love of Patrick Swayze, don't stir too hard and break the potatoes all up into mush. Be gentle.
5) Now turn the heat to high and cook for 10-15 minutes. Stir (GENTLY) sometimes to prevent sticking, and hover over that stove for the last little bit, because they will go from golden brown and perfect to overdone in the time it takes you to stoke the woodstove. Or whatever.
6) When they've reached golden perfection, take them out with a spatula and plop them on a plate covered in a whole buncha paper towels. Salt as you wish and serve as fast as possible. They'll hold a few minutes in a warm oven, but not for too long.
Now go forth and fry some potatoes. It's the patriotic thing to do.