In Brazil they called them batatas à Portuguesa though I did have to ask what these were… Perhaps this is an example of cultural stereotyping. I did order them and as they were set on the table I immediately recognised them as my grandmother’s fries. Cut by hand (not on a chopping board) by holding the potato in the left hand and cutting towards your thumb with a sharp paring knife with the right hand (invert for left-handed I guess). My grandmother used to make them on a large shallow frying pan over gas with vegetable oil. I can never get that to work quite right (I cook on an Aga, you see…). So here’s my procedure when using a deep-fryer.
1. Peel and cut potatoes in slices as described above (between 1 mm and 5 mm: this is not mire-poix, they’re supposed to be of slightly different sizes). Potatoes should be firm and starchy.
2. Soak in cold water for rougly 10 minutes, drain and dry thoroughly on a clean teatowel (don’t use paper towels – less eco and not quite the right feel).
3. Put the potatoes in the hot oil (near maximum setting on a standard deep fryer) until light golden
4. Lift the deep fryer basket and hold for 5 minutes
5. Return the basket to the hot oil and fry for another 30 seconds (this ensures crispness or at least that’s my belief at the moment)
6. Place potatoes on a plate covered with two sheets of paper towels (don’t use tea towels though they’re more eco…)
7. Season generously with good salt (fleur de sel works particularly nice – more about this in another post…)
Summary Trick: Re-fry for crispness