When I read that Spike Mendelsohn uses waxy Red Bliss potatoes for the fries at Good Stuff Eatery in D.C. my interest was instantly piqued. Everything I'd always read about making the best possible fries involved the use of floury Russet potato for it's high sugar content that lead to good caramelization and browning in the fryer. But when I sat down to talk to Spike he made a good case for these unusual fries and I was eager to see how they compared.
In The Good Stuff Cookbook Spike explains that he uses Red Bliss potatoes for a few reasons: Their thin skin is edible and does not need to be peeled, they cook faster, and their flavor is sweeter than the traditional Russets. Still a bit skeptical, I heated up a big pot of oil and started slicing my potatoes into fries.
After the initial blanch and second fry at a higher temperature I had what appeared to be a beautiful pile of fries. I tossed them with the chopped herbs and salt according to the recipe and waited until they were almost cool enough to eat. What I noticed right off the bat was sweet creaminess that Spike had spoken about. The insides of the fries were denser than regular fries, but had an appealing richness to them. The outside of the fries didn't have that perfect brittle crispness that a Russet would—these were somewhere in between an oven roasted potato and a fry—but the fries were really enjoyable nonetheless.
Since my "fry station" was more of an impromptu kitchen set up made up of a pot of oil and an armload of paper towels, I'm curious to see how these waxy potatoes would fry up in a countertop deep-fat fryer where temperatures can be regulated to a more exact point. But, when it comes to making fries at home, skipping the peeling and the sweet flavors of Red Bliss fries are a definite plus.
- 5 pounds Red Bliss potatoes
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- 1 cup chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup sea salt
Wash and scrub the potatoes under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut in half lengthwise, then into long strips, about 1/4-inch thick.
In deep pot or deep-fat fryer, heat about 3 inches of oil until a thermometer reads 250°F. Line a metal tray or baking sheet with paper towels.
Add one handful of the potatoes to the pot. Fry until tender but have no color. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Repeat the procedure until all of the strips are cooked. Refrigerate until cool.
Reheat the oil to 350°F. Line the metal tray with fresh paper towels.
Add the cooled potatoes a few handfuls at a time to the oil and fry until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Toss with the rosemary, thyme, and salt while the slices are still hot. Serve immediately.